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Inspiring doctor is Queensland Australian of the Year

GOLD Coast quadriplegic doctor Dinesh Palipana has been named Queensland Australian of the Year 2021, topping off a stellar 12 months for the advocate for disabled medicos.

Dr Palipana OAM, the state's first quadriplegic doctor, finished his law degree and was admitted as a solicitor in September.

Dr Dinesh Palipana was admitted as a solicitor earlier this year. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Dr Dinesh Palipana was admitted as a solicitor earlier this year. Picture: Nigel Hallett


Months earlier, in December last year, Dr Palipana popped the question and proposed to his girlfriend Rachael Antonie at the top of the Empire State Building in New York.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced the annual awards at a ceremony in Brisbane tonight, ahead of the national Australia Day awards in January.

She revealed Dr Palipana, a 36-year-old senior resident at Gold Coast University Hospital, was the winner of the 2021 award.

Dr Palipana's ongoing success comes after a horrific car crash in 2010 which left him without feeling or movement from the chest down.

Rachael Antionie and Dr Dinesh Palipana at the top of the Empire State Building moments after they became engaged. Picture: Supplied
Rachael Antionie and Dr Dinesh Palipana at the top of the Empire State Building moments after they became engaged. Picture: Supplied

In 2016, the Bulletin highlighted Dr Palipana's attempts to get a job with Queensland Health.

It was reported that as the only quadriplegic to put his hand up for a job, Dr Palipana was the only graduate in the state who did not get a response.

But the determined doctor overcame adversity and is now being lauded by the Premier as a Queenslander who "knows no barriers".

"He is a truly inspiring person and a much-deserved recipient of the Queensland Australian of the Year Award," Ms Palaszczuk said.

Dr Dinesh Palipana made headlines for overcoming his disability to receive an internship as a doctor at Gold Coast University Hospital in 2017.
Dr Dinesh Palipana made headlines for overcoming his disability to receive an internship as a doctor at Gold Coast University Hospital in 2017.

"Dr Palipana was the first quadriplegic medical graduate and medical intern in Queensland and was also recently admitted as a lawyer.

"As co-founder of Doctors with Disabilities Australia, he helped create national policies for

inclusivity in medical education and employment.

"He speaks, writes and advocates for the equitable treatment of people with a disability, and he has contributed significantly to the advancement of treating spinal cord injuries and restoring functions for people with paralysis."

Gold Coast Titans physical disability rugby league team players with Dr Dinesh Palipana. Picture: Glenn Hampson
Gold Coast Titans physical disability rugby league team players with Dr Dinesh Palipana. Picture: Glenn Hampson

Dr Palipana, a doctor for the Gold Coast Titans physical disability rugby league team, has worked with the Australian Medical Association to create first-of-kind national policies for inclusivity in medical education and employment.

He has spoken in wildly popular forums such as TEDx and advocated for equitable treatment for people with disabilities, including as a witness to the Disability Royal Commission.

The award also recognised Dr Palipana's contributions towards scientific advances to treat spinal cord injury and restore function to people with paralysis

Dr Palipana was previously recognised with awards including Junior Doctor of the Year and the Order of Australia.

Originally published as Inspiring Coast doctor Queensland Australian of the Year


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