Elders Q-Fever advocate Wayne Eeles wins national safety award - Elders Rural Services
Elders, pink shirt, Wayne Eeles

Elders Q-Fever advocate Wayne Eeles wins national safety award

Branch manager of Elders Echuca, Wayne Eeles, has been recognised on a national scale for his efforts in raising awareness about Q-Fever disease.

Wayne was diagnosed with the life-debilitating disease more than 14 years ago and recently decided to share his story with colleagues and Australia’s rural community in a bid to raise awareness.

Wayne has since been recognised for his efforts, winning Elders’ national safety award in May.

Describing the win as very humbling, Wayne explained that it’s not in his nature to let things slow him down and to address his illness and speak out about it was a struggle.

“Deciding to do this video wasn’t easy. Some parts are very tough for me to talk about because of the affect that Q-Fever has had on my life over the last 14 years.” “I’ve always been the type to suck it up and get on with it and it was a real challenge at first to be open about my struggle.”

Q-Fever is a debilitating disease that can be fatal. It attacks organs in the body, particularly the heart and liver, meaning that patients often have long term side-effects. In Wayne’s case, he lost 40 percent of his heart functionality and has had a pace-maker installed.

Fatigue and a decreased physical fitness are also side-affects that have permanently changed Wayne’s quality of life.

“It’s always surprised me how many people from off the land have no knowledge of the disease,” said Mr Eeles.

Zone general manager – South, Malcolm Hunt, has praised Wayne’s positive attitude and commitment to spreading the word about vaccination throughout the network.

“Wayne’s advocacy around Q-Fever vaccination has undoubtedly increased awareness around our network and set an exceptional precedent to not take our health for granted,” said Mr. Hunt.

“His message is simple but effective and his actions are incredibly deserving of this award.”

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Despite the personal struggle, Wayne has had an overwhelming response from the network, his clients, and the local community.
“I honestly can’t believe the response. I’ve had email after email from people who’ve found the video powerful and moving,” said Mr Eeles.

As well as receiving recognition amongst his peers, Wayne will have the opportunity to attend the annual awards night held in Adelaide later this year.

Wayne explained how privileged he felt to be recognised with an award amongst the network, but that he ultimately derived most satisfaction from the feedback he has received.

“I feel like there’s a lot more awareness now and that makes it all worthwhile. If I can prevent one person going through what I’ve been through or educate someone about living with the disease – that’s what matters.”