Q & A for Dr Conradie’s departure from the Gingin Medical Centre

Published on Friday, 4 September 2020 at 3:59:00 PM

1. Is the Shire forcing Dr Conradie to leave?

Dr Conradie has made her own decision to leave the employment of the Shire of Gingin. She has been an excellent doctor for our community over the years and her services have been immensely appreciated.

A consistent, reliable and sustainable GP service in Gingin is and will always be the Committee’s and Council’s focus. Health services in our community are a high priority for Council. Unfortunately Dr Conradie has decided to depart and whilst disappointed, the Shire respects her decision on this matter.

2. Why is Dr Conradie leaving?

Dr Conradie has not disclosed her reasons to Council so the Shire cannot comment on this matter and this is a personal decision of Dr Conradie. Additionally, as Dr Conradie is an employee of the Shire of Gingin, the employee/employer relationship remains confidential and is not open for public discussion.

Council has supported the Gingin Medical Centre in substantial ways via both financial and administrative support for many years and this is continuing. Dr Conradie has been with the Centre for some 9.5 years and has been on Council’s direct employment for a significant period of time but has unfortunately chosen to move on and in the end, Council and the Committee wish her well for the next chapter.

3. Why did the Shire delete some of the comments posted to its post on its Facebook page announcing Dr Conradie’s resignation?

As outlined in a separate post on Facebook and the Shire’s website on 28 August, every single community member is entitled to have an opinion and comment on posts that the Shire shares on local topics and issues with the community on its Facebook and Youtube channels.

However, all community members deserve to be able to discuss their thoughts and opinions on public matters in an environment of mutual respect. This also includes Councillors and staff.

As such, all comments that are deemed to be offensive, obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, bullying, hateful, racist, sexist or otherwise unlawful, have been recorded and then deleted from the Shire’s Facebook posts.

Council respects the right of community members to voice their opinions, especially on local projects and issues they feel passionately about. However, that does not excuse poor behaviour online.

4. Why is Dr Conradie not in a position to discuss her reasons for leaving?

Dr Conradie is an employee of the Shire of Gingin and like any other employee, she is bound to a Code of Conduct – a policy in place and utilised by many employers in regards to employees.

Likewise, the Shire is also bound by employment policies and legislation. As Dr Conradie’s employer, the Shire endeavours to act in a manner appropriate of an employer.

5. Has the Shire put the rental rate up for the Medical Centre and has building the new building at the Administration Centre been the cause for this?

There is no rental rate for the Medical Centre. Council owns the facility and everyone who works there is an employee of the Shire of Gingin. Dr Smit did lease the facility during her time there (much like many other businesses who lease buildings from owners) but it was for a peppercorn lease. Dr Conradie has always been an employee of the Shire so when Dr Smit departed from the Centre and Dr Conradie took the practice on as the Senior GP, the Shire took on the role as the direct manager of the Medical Centre and as such, it is now a direct service of the Shire.

To clarify, the new building being erected at the Administration Centre is an archives facility. Staff for the past 5-10 years have been operating in a building which has had limited expansion since its last expansion in 2009 and there is very little room for staff to operate. The old external archives room was too small to house all the Shire’s records so the remainder were being stored in the Admin Centre. The larger records building being constructed will create more office space in the Admin Centre once the surplus records are relocated which will allow staff to spread out more and create a safer environment for them to operate in.

The new archives room was specifically budgeted for and this has nothing to do with the Medical Centre.

6. Is the CEO at fault and the reason for Dr Conradie’s departure?

The CEO has, with other administration staff, directly managed facets of the Medical Centre since Dr Smit departed the practice. The CEO has worked with the Medical Centre Committee directly with all decisions that were being made regarding the Medical Centre and referred to Council in Briefing Sessions and Council meetings where required.

7. How come the Shire isn’t being open and transparent about this?

As previously mentioned, Dr Conradie is an employee of the Shire of Gingin so the matter is confidential.

The Shire can be open however, about what it is planning to do to find a replacement for Dr Conradie. At this stage the CEO and the Medical Centre Committee have been in discussions with several prospective doctors who are looking at the practice as a business opportunity or to become a staff member of Council as per the current arrangement. It will take time and effort to source a new committed GP but the CEO and Committee are focused on this outcome and to achieve this in a timely manner.

8. Will there be a public meeting to discuss this matter?

No – there won’t be a public meeting. Dr Conradie is an employee of the Shire so the CEO and Council are not at liberty to discuss her employment arrangements with the public. The responses provided here to the numerous questions received on this matter should clarify most enquiries and if they do not then the public is welcome to ask further questions of the Shire.

9. Why is Dr Conradie the second doctor to leave in such a short time?

Given Dr Conradie is an employee, again – the Shire is limited in what it can disclose to the public. The same can be said for Dr Smit’s departure. She was originally employed by the Shire before taking over the practice and leasing the centre. Dr Smit was operating without a current lease for several years and was offered a new lease for the Medical Centre on a number of occasions, which would have resolved several outstanding issues. However she refused to accept the lease and chose to depart the Practice.  

Unfortunately doctors (just like employees) do come and go. As per Dr Conradie’s requests for a second GP, Council has actively sought and interviewed several GPs and it has always been Council’s intent to find a private entity to run the practice and Dr Conradie has participated in these processes. 

The community has been fortunate to enjoy Dr Conradie’s services for 9.5 years and whilst it is sad to see her go, from the Shire’s point of view we have all been very lucky to enjoy her tenure for as long as we have had it. We wish her well in future endeavours.

10. What is the Shire planning to do to replace Dr Conradie?

As previously mentioned, the CEO and Council have already commenced some tentative inquiries and negotiations with several prospective GPs. The Shire hopes to engage a new GP by the time Dr Conradie is ready to depart the practice at the end of November.

The Shire can only request that the community bears with us and the process that we must undertake whilst we work through this tricky stage of negotiating to secure two new GPs for the practice.

If community members have any questions at any point in time about this process then please feel free to contact Aaron Cook, the CEO. He, Council and staff are always happy to talk about any subject with the community and we welcome respectful discussion and questions.

Please call (08) 9575 5100.

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