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28 May, 2022

Foundation launch in GP’s honour

SIX years after the shock death of much-loved Mareeba GP Doctor Mark Bestmann, his hard work and passion for improving the health and wellbeing of his community is far from over.

Mareeba and Communities Family Healthcare Board members Joe Moro, Dr Samuel Nastasi, Councillor Mary Graham, Margie Bestmann, Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic, Board member Betty Dickenson, Project Manager Louise Livingstone and Board Chairman Ross Cardillo.

Last week, the Black Cockatoo Foundation was officially launched in his honour by Dr Bestmann’s wife Margie, Mareeba and Communities Family Healthcare and Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic. 

“Mark’s death was a catalyst for change in our community,” Mrs Bestmann said. “A time for people to lead with a kinder heart, to strive to understand, to support those in need, to extend a helping hand, and to rebuild community connection. “My family and I are very proud that Mark’s contribution to health and wellbeing in the Mareeba community is being recognised with the naming of the Black Cockatoo Foundation in his honour. “The foundation is for the improvement of health and wellbeing of the Mareeba community, through health promotion activities with a major focus on mental illness.” 

Mrs Bestmann said that her husband had struggled with mental health for 20 years prior to his death in 2016. She said through learning from his own experiences he had a deep compassion and empathy for the wellbeing of his patients. Dr Bestmann was also a GP educator for the Black Dog Institute in Sydney, where he travelled to regional areas teaching GPS how to treat patients with anxiety and depression. 

“In the days and the weeks that followed (Mark’s death), it became clear to me how many people have no understanding or a misunderstanding of mental illness,” Mrs Bestmann said. “It was for this reason that I decided to commence promoting mental health awareness and education in our community.” 

Mareeba and Communities Family Healthcare Board chairman Ross Cardillo said launching the Black Cockatoo Foundation was a vital step in the right direction to providing much-needed services, training and awareness surrounding mental health. 

“It was an initial meeting that we discussed that could be done about the need for increased access to mental health services, as well as training and development of healthcare workers in the area of mental health,” Mr Cardillo said. “(The Foundation) will focus specifically on improving the health and wellbeing of Mareeba community. The objectives of the Black Cockatoo Foundation are to provide the community with activities intended to engage with those who are at risk or disadvantage. “Our goal is to build a local workforce as a key source of labour supply by engaging with local secondary schools and training organisations, to link disadvantaged young people with allied health, community services or mental health professionals.” 

Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic said the Black Cockatoo Foundation would take Dr Bestmann’s legacy forward by focussing on a range of priority areas, “which he worked so hard at”. 

“He championed the mental health needs of people living in rural and remote areas of Queensland,” Mr Frkovic said. “He initiated a discussion and increased community knowledge about mental health, alcohol and other drugs and suicide prevention to help more people feel comfortable about seeking help and support. “(This Foundation) encapsulates Mark’s legacy and is such an important development and its establishment in a rural regional Queensland community.” 

Mareeba Old Players and Supporters was first to make a donation to the Foundation. Mareeba Rotary and Mareeba Lions Club have also donated.

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