When more than 11,000 Scouts met in Maryborough for the 23rd Australian Scout Jamboree in 2013, Beaudesert’s Dr Michael Rice ran the health team for the event.
It was a highlight of his life to date, experienced with his wife Caroline and their sons Kieren, Patrick and Alex by his side.
“I had a real ball, working with Caroline and medical colleagues and long-term Scouting contacts and other friends to organise a major event,” he said.
“We had the whole family there and I was doing bits of photography and writing bits of media, it really brought a lot of my interests together in one place.”
Michael, 57, is probably best known around Beaudesert as Dr Rice.
He is a rural generalist GP at the bustling Beaudesert Medical Centre, where he has been a partner since 1994, and he first worked in Beaudesert and Jimboomba in the early 1990s.
He was instrumental in the campaign to bring back maternity services at Beaudesert Hospital, where he was previously GP Obstetrician, and he helped look after about 3000 pregnancies from 1994 to 2003.
He is an advocate for rural health, serves as Chair of the Rural Doctors Foundation and has previously been President of the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland.
He is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Queensland School of Medicine and still works half a day each week in the Mater Hospital antenatal clinic as a ‘GP with a Special Interest’.
For someone so qualified and experienced, Michael always seems to be learning from the people around him.
It is clear in the way he quotes other people to make his point.
“John Douyere from Longreach put it really nicely – he talked about how your friends become your patients and your patients become your friends in a rural community,” he said.
“I’d have to say I’ve found it very comforting.”
Michael’s family found comfort in the community of Beaudesert in 1997 – a tough year.
“Our Patrick was one of twins and his twin sister Julia died in 1997, at 14 months, with bad viral pneumonia, and my father died that year as well,” he said.
“The practice was very supportive, the town was very supportive, particularly friends from kindergarten, BUGS (cycling group), the Junior Chamber of Commerce.”
Michael’s passion for community dates back to before he was born.
“My parents Adele and Charlie were both dedicated to their work as teachers and, outside of that, put a lot of effort into helping people, particularly helping settle refugees from the end of the Vietnam War onwards,” he said.
“I think their commitment to giving their own time to help other people probably set me and my two sisters up to do the same sort of thing.”