Dr Kamalakaren Ratnam
|First name||Dr Kamalakaren|
|Country of Origin||Malaysia|
|Date of Birth||18/06/50|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1981|
|Submitted by||Reshni Ratnam|
KAMALAKARAN (Harry) Ratnam is a man dedicated to helping the sick people of Ipswich and Brisbane. Born in Malaysia, he went to Dublin to study medicine and ended up as a much loved GP (general practitioner) in Riverview Ð a suburb only 40 minutes from Brisbane, Queensland (in Australia).
Dr Ratnam, of Collingwood Park, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2007 for service to medicine in the area of general practice and to the community of Ipswich.
After he did the early part of his schooling in Kuala Lumpur, his father sent him to Dublin in Ireland to finish off the latter part of his schooling.
He was educated by the Christian Brothers at St John\’s in Kuala Lumpur.
After he finished high school in Dublin, he entered the Royal College of Surgeons and Physicians of Ireland in Dublin, graduating in 1977.
In his final year, the Agent General from Queensland arrived to interview potential doctors to come and work in Queensland.
‘I think about 30 or 40 people applied to go to Australia and four of us got selected,’Dr Ratnam said.
He said the path to Australia proved to be a long, circuitous and fraught with difficulty.
After he graduated he went home because his mother died the year before. Dr Ratnam was pining for home and wanted to spend some time with his dad.
‘But unfortunately he got run down by two motorbikes that were racing and he got admitted to hospital,’he said.
‘So the family gathers around and says, ‘You can\’t go to Australia now, you can\’t leave a sinking ship. Why don\’t you get a job here and go to Australia after you finish your internship?’
He joined the Malaysian Medical Services and started working as an intern at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital. After he finished his internship he started getting ready to leave for Australia, where he had a job lined up at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.
But the Malaysian Government said he couldn\’t leave because there was a shortage of doctors and he would have to serve four years of compulsory service.
He left and came to Brisbane and went before the medical board to register. The medical board wrote to the Malaysian Government and they said:’ Send him back’.
‘So I went back and served the Malaysian Government for four years. I worked as a medical and health officer in the very poor state of Kelantan, in Kota Baharu,’Dr Ratnam said.
Not long before he took up that position, he was married to his wife Raji. They endured harsh conditions together and together they were taken into the hearts of the people of Kelantan.
They were very poor people in a disadvantaged area. But you grew to love the people. They have no money to pay you but they pay you with love and affection,’ he said.
After he finished his time there, he arrived in Australia and started his own practice at Riverview in February 1982 Ð a year after his first son Dinesh was born. His second child Reshni was born in 1983.
Since 1991 Dr Ratnam has also provided medical services to the Salvation Army Riverview Gardens aged care facility.
‘We\’ve lived in Australia for many years now and we just love it,’ he said
In 2004 Dr Ratnam received the Ipswich Centenary Medal for volunteer services to the community. In 2005 he was appointed inaugural director of the after hours family care medical service and continues to do this role.
In 2007 he received the Order of Australia Medal, OAM, for services to medicine in the area of general practice and to the community of Ipswich. He is a member for the conduct review committee of the Ipswich City Council and a standing member of the medical advisory committee.
In 2009 the Ipswich City Council named an 18 hectare park in Redbank Plains after Dr Harry Ratnam. The Park has been named DR HARRY RATNAM OAM PARK.