From the stifling heat of the north to the cool coastal mountains of Queensland, Dr Mark Loane AM has made it his mission to bring vital medical services to the some of the isolated members of our state.
For almost half a century, between his vocation and volunteer efforts, the Ipswich-born eye surgeon and former sporting legend has dedicated his life to restoring sight.
Now his vision for a better and healthier Queensland has been recognised, as he has just become one of only eight Queensland Greats announced by the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during 2019 Queensland Week Celebrations.
“The award means a huge amount to me,” Dr Loane said.
“I have been fortunate to be able to pursue several passions in life, but I recognise that these are gifts are given to you and you can’t achieve much without the help of other people.”
“I am the small part of a significant organisation – none of the things I have done would have been possible without a team effort.
“In particular with my work on the Cape, I am thankful to be surrounded by people who share a passion for serving a profession that deeply values and enshrines human life,” he said.
Dr Loane’s scientific skill is equalled only by his sporting ability – having represented Queensland as a member of the Queensland Reds, competing on the world stage at just 18 years of age.
He played 28 test matches for Australia’s rugby union team, the Wallabies, including as captain against New Zealand’s All Blacks in 1979.
Under his leadership, Australia won the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in 46 years.
His senior rugby career started when he was a student at The University of Queensland (UQ) through the UQ Rugby Club, where he was a legendary #8.
He was recognised for his sporting achievements when he was inaugurated into the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame and named one of Queensland's top 50 sportspeople of all time.
During his time competing for Australia, Dr Loane concurrently completed his studies at UQ, somehow juggling the demands of both sportsmanship and medical school.
“It was challenging – a lot of people said I should give up the game that I couldn’t do both,” Dr Loane said.
“I remember speaking to the Dean of Medicine at UQ, Eric Saint, about the choice I had and my reasons for pursuing both medicine and sport.
“He told me ‘I think this is a good thing for you as a person, it will enlarge your life, so while you can you should try to do both — I think it will help you grow as a person’.
“He told me that as long as I continued to pass my exams he would support me,” Dr Loane said.
“It was very clear in my mind that this was a gift, and that I would have to work very hard to be worthy of it. So from that point on, I started living somewhere in the near future; I became focused on what I needed to do and I didn’t look back.”
After graduating from UQ with a Bachelor of Medicine / Bachelor of Surgery in 1977, Dr Loane went on to specialise in ophthalmology – the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders.
Having developed a passion for Indigenous health, Dr Loane then established and ran the Cape York Eye Health Project, a government-backed project responsible for providing a state-of-the-art eye health services to people in their communities.
“What I have done with my work, particularly in Cape York is in part payment for the faith Eric Saint showed in me.”
“Any professional, occupational or sporting success I’ve had in this life, I owe directly to The University of Queensland,” Dr Loane said.
Through Cape York Eye Health Project Dr Loane and his team sometimes found themselves performing more than 80 operations per week to help meet the demand for specialist services in remote north Queensland.
“The relationship between medicine and humanity is rather Shakespearean; you simply cannot carry out the practice of medicine well unless you have a profound love and respect for humanity,” Dr Loane said.
“We are driven by our love of humanity and our commitment to the Hippocratic Oath — you don’t take into account who the person is, you look after that person as if they were a member of your own family.”
“Medicine is blind to differences – there is no consideration of class or race or social structure.”
Outside his work on the Cape, Dr Loane works privately at Vision Eye Institute (River City) and publicly at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and has now served the Brisbane community for almost 30 years.
He has also held board positions with Guide Dogs Queensland and the Australian and New Zealand Eye Foundation (ANZEF).
Dr Loane was named a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to Medicine – particularly his work with Indigenous communities of northern Queensland in 2011.
UQ’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Peter Høj AC, said Dr Loane was a shining example of the talent within UQ’s alumni community.
“Dr Loane’s lifetime of commitment to the people of Queensland through his vocation, volunteer efforts and sporting achievements is extraordinary – and very deserving of recognition.
“It is an honour to count him amongst our community of 264,000 graduates who are creating positive change in Queensland, Australia and around the world each year.”
Other UQ alumni and community members who were recognised as Queensland Greats include Indigenous advocate and Arts graduate Mrs Patricia O’Connor, renowned conservationist the late Dr John Sinclair AO and philanthropist Chuck Feeney.
Many UQ community members were also awarded in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday honours in the following categories*:
Emeritus Professor Maree Smith AC (Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) ’76, Doctor of Philosophy (Medicine) ’83) – read more about her achievements here.
AO (General Division)
Professor Calum John Drummond AO
Kathy Fagg AO (Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) ’82, Doctor of Chemical Engineering honoris causa ’16)
Associate Professor Alexander Stewart Forrest AO (Bachelor of Dental Science ’79, Grad Cert Education ’96, Master Dental Science ’99)
Professor Karim Khan
The Honourable Justice Debra Ann Mullins AO (Bachelor of Commerce ’77, Bachelor of Laws ’80, Master Laws ’87, Master Laws (Adv) ’99)
Dr Gregory Myles Powell AO (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery ’70)
Professor Linda Jane Richards AO
Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Lee Smart AO (Master of Public Health ’07)
Emeritus Professor Graeme Turner AO
Kay Ellen Van Norton Poche AO (Doctor of The University honoris causa ’16)
Professor Mark Von Itzstein AO (Queensland Certificate in Animal Husbandry ’76)
AM (General Division)
Eric Russell Anderson AM (Bachelor of Agricultural Science ’65, Master Agricultural Science ’73)
The Honourable Graham Rodney Bell AM (Bachelor of Laws ’61)
Professor Bruce Black AO (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery ’70, Doctor of Medicine ’98)
Professor Victor James Callan AM
Veronica Mary Casey AM
Stephen William Conry AM (Associate Dip in Real Estate Valuation ’87)
Adjunct Professor Sandra Creamer AM
Sophie Alice Cunningham AM
Gregory Lance Early AM (Bachelor of Arts ’80)
Dr Marguerite Virginia Evans-Galea AM (Bachelor of Science ’92, Bachelor of Music ’92, Grad Dip Science ’94)
Sarah Margaret Follent AM (Bachelor of Social Work ’73, Bachelor of Arts ’84)
Emeritus Professor Richard Allen Fotheringham AM (Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) ’71, Master Arts ’75, Doctor of Philosophy ’87)
Professor Jacob George AM (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (honours) ’83)
Kathy Hirschfeld AM (Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) ’82)
Dr Prudence Joan Prue Manners AM (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery ’66)
Emeritus Professor Gabriel Adelin Moens AM (Grad Cert Education ’98)
Stephen Moore AM (Bachelor of Science (Biomedical Science) ’06)
Dr Bradley Michael Norman AM
Associate Professor Clare Nourse AM
Professor Michael Charles Michael Reade AM
Dr Lindy Jane Roberts AM (Bachelor of Medical Science (honours) ’87, Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery (honours) ’88)
Stephen Wayne Sheaffe AM (Bachelor of Laws ’83, Master Laws ’97)
Mahalingam Sinnathamby AM
Dr William Francis Sultmann AM (Bachelor of Educational Studies ’76, Bachelor of Arts ’78, Master Educational Studies ’79, Doctor of Philosophy (Education) ’86)
Emeritus Professor Alasdair McDowall AM
AM (Military Division)
Professor Michael Reade
OAM (General Division)
Professor Peta Ashworth OAM (Graduate Certificate in Management ’00,
Graduate Diploma in Business Administration ’02, Master of Business Administration (Executive) ’03)
Damien Leigh Atkinson OAM (Bachelor of Arts ’86, Bachelor of Laws (Honours) ’89)
Dr Christopher James Cunneen OAM (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery ’82)
Louise Margaret Evans OAM (Bachelor of Arts ’83)
Pauline Lesley Harvey-Short OAM (Bachelor of Human Movement Studies ’84, Master Philosophy ’16)
Desmond John Hogan OAM (Associate in Commerce ’66)
Dr David Thomas McDonald OAM (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery ’75, Bachelor of Science ’74)
Dr Robert Stevenson (Steven) Nisbet (Bachelor of Science ’68, Grad Dip Education ’69, Master Educational Studies ’81)
Daniel Leonard O'Connor (Bachelor of Educational Studies ’90, Master Laws ’98)
Joanne Lorraine Alice Pearson OAM (Master of Nurse Practitioner Studies ’17)
Stanley Robert Plath OAM (Bachelor of Education ’70, Cert in Education ’69)
Daniel Gargett Stewart OAM (Bachelor of Education ’72)
Colin James Sutcliffe OAM (Bachelor of Educational Studies ’79)
Elliott William Titley OAM (Bachelor of Arts ’83)
Barbara Wertheim OAM (Bachelor of Arts ’75)
Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC)
Jennifer Lillian Cotton CSC (Bachelor of Human Movement Studies (EDUC) ’81, Master of Business Administration (Executive) ’03)
Public Service Medal (PSM)
Dr Roslyn Kay Baxter PSM )Bachelor of Laws (honours) ’00, Bachelor of Social Work (honours) ’95, Bachelor of Arts ’93)
Kirstine Illene Harvie PSM (Bachelor of Economics ’88, Grad Dip Education ’85, Bachelor of Commerce ’83)
Australian Police Medal (APM)
Senior Sergeant Kate Maree Teasdale APM (Bachelor of Science ’02)
Senior Sergeant Melanie Ann Wilkins APM
Ambulance Service Medal (ASM)
Brett Lenard Rogers ASM (Bachelor of Surveying ’88)
*If you know of a member of the university community honoured in the Queen’s Birthday awards that does not appear on our list, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can help celebrate their success.