To those who know him, the fact that Dr John van Bockxmeer received an ‘Inspiring Possibilities’ award at the 40under40 gala dinner is no surprise. As founder of the charitable organisation ‘Fair Game’, the UWA graduate was recognised for his volunteer work and contribution to creating healthier communities.
But for Dr van Bockxmeer, his community-minded spirit was first sparked when he was a student at UWA. An active member of the student body and helping students have a voice on campus, he also took his medical skills abroad and volunteered in Honduras, Zambia and Tajikistan.
“I’ve always had a desire to give back to the communities I am a part of. I am very grateful for the opportunities I had to volunteer while I was at UWA, and the work I did abroad ignited a passion for helping disadvantaged communities access better healthcare solutions," says Dr van Bockxmeer.
After graduating from UWA in 2009, Dr van Bockxmeer began working as a remote emergency doctor in Port Hedland, where he saw firsthand the effects poor lifestyle choices had on Indigenous Australian communities. This experience was his inspiration to begin Fair Game in 2010.
To date, the program has been successful in inspiring more than 6,000 Indigenous Australians and refugees to improve their health, while reducing communicable and lifestyle-related diseases through the donation of 20,000 items of recycled sports equipment.
“This was a grass roots project that began with me and some other UWA graduates and has grown into something really special over the last six and a half years.
"I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved and receiving this award represents the hard work of 180 volunteers across Australia who have helped inspire healthy communities.”
So what does the future hold for Fair Game? Dr van Bockxmeer says they are currently developing regional hubs in Broome, Sydney and Melbourne and focusing on how to make the program as transferrable to other communities around the country as possible.
As for the Doctor himself, he plans to stay in Port Hedland and hopes to transition into health leadership in the future. In the meantime though, he’ll continue as a remote emergency doctor, a job he loves where no challenge is too big.