Remote pharmacist ‘Robbo’ is pharmacist of the year

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Remote pharmacist and tireless advocate for improvements in Aboriginal health, Andrew ‘Robbo’ Roberts, has been named the PSA Pharmacist of the Year for 2015.

Roberts is also renowned for advocating an extend scope of practice for pharmacists to improve health in rural and remote communities.

Living in a small community and travelling extensively throughout remote areas, Roberts is a bush pharmacist who is also known for his community work, says the PSA.

He provides pharmacist services to 10 clinics which service 2500 people across a practice area the size of Victoria. His work requires navigation of jurisdictional regulations across Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Roberts says he is very honoured – and surprised – to receive this award.

“You can feel very isolated at times from your peers working 1000km from the nearest pharmacy and regional hospital. I am never sure if my voice is heard, and if so, not dismissed as that mad man from the bush!” he says.

“My thanks go to Fran Vaughan who as the rural pharmacist academic in Alice Springs started a project to have a pharmacist working with a remote Aboriginal health service, and to the Ngaanyatjarra Health Service who have long recognised what pharmacists can bring to the health team out bush.

“My biggest thanks go to the people of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands for welcoming me on to their lands and into their lives for over 10 years.

“I hope this award increases the recognition of the need for pharmacists to be working as part of the health care team for our remote Indigenous Australians.”

National President of PSA, Joe Demarte, says Mr Roberts is an exceptional pharmacist and an exceptional human being.

“The work he does means he is a community leader, a councillor, a coach, a Mr Fix-It and a pharmacist and he fulfils these roles with passion and commitment,” Demarte says.

“He is a truly amazing character who can be the only healthcare professional many people in remote areas can consult with, depending on whether there are nurses at that clinic or out station.”

Brett Barons, General Manager Symbion, sponsor of the awards for the 11th consecutive year, congratulated Roberts on his award.

“Reading his nomination is like reading an adventure novel; an adventure novel where the hero is a pharmacist who is absolutely dedicated to the people he serves. This award is fitting recognition of his extraordinary work,” Barons says.

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