"So many people in our hospitals have moved here from somewhere else. It creates this environment where if you need to talk to someone [...] they’re open and willing to take you under their wing because they know what it’s like."
"Launceston is just amazing. Winding country roads where you can see some beautiful scenery, plus you can go fast down hills which is always fun."
A little more than a year before the COVID pandemic struck the world, Scott Gibbings travelled from his home in Perth, Western Australia, to Tasmania. He brought his bike.
A couple of days before arriving in Launceston, Scott reached out to a cycling group in Launceston. Someone responded quickly: “Meet at the church at 7:30am.”
They met at the church on a quiet, sunny morning.
“It was a beautiful summer,” Scott says. “But I’ve got this issue with not being able to relax properly. I don’t relax until I’ve earned it so cycling and exercise are really good. I did that two days in a row, with a really good group of people. Perth, it’s busy and it’s pretty flat. Launceston is just amazing. Winding country roads where you can see some beautiful scenery, plus you can go fast down hills which is always fun.”
He remembers it as his favourite holiday.
Soon enough, Scott was locked down in his apartment in Perth, working by day as a manager in a busy hospital. Like many of us, the COVID pandemic gave Scott time to think about what should come next.
“I was working under people who had a stack of amazing national and international experience, and I was a single-state, single-employer person for the first 10 years of my career. I knew that I needed to go and see something else so I could add some extra layers to my career journey. It was a confluence of life situations; I thought it would be a good thing for me."
Scott wasn’t actively looking, but he was caught up in that in-between COVID place, stuck between comfort, frustration, adventure, and possibility. Then one evening, as he was on his balcony with a gin and tonic — that may or may not have been of Tasmanian origin — an email arrived in his inbox of definite Tasmanian origin.
The email was a job posting for the Statewide Allied Health Recruitment Consultant. Scott thought of those rides through meandering country roads and applied. Today, he is one of the regulars, inviting visitors and new Tasmanians to meet at the church at 7:30 am.
“There are four or five of us who ride every week, just young guys, my age, and all have moved here from elsewhere.”
On one of those early morning rides, Richie Porte showed up. The same Richie Porte who finished on the podium at the 2020 Tour de France.
“Here’s this international level cyclist doing the group ride with a bunch of hacks on a weekend,” says Scott. “I got to draft off his wheel to the front of the peloton one morning. It was like, ‘I can’t believe this is actually happening.’ It definitely wouldn’t be happening in Perth. He’s a Tasmanian, a proud Tasmanian, who gets out and is still integrated in the community. That’s such a Tasmanian thing, no one is better than anyone else. Like David Walsh drinking a beer on the lawn at MONA.”
Part of Scott’s job now is to do for others what he had done, almost accidentally, for himself: find a meaningful opportunity in Tasmania, take advantage of nature, and discover a sense of belonging in the local community.
“So many people in our hospitals have moved here from somewhere else,” says Scott. “So it creates this environment where if you need to talk to someone, there’s a 75 per cent chance they’ve also made this same transition. They’re a bit more open and willing to take you under their wing because they know what it’s like. Everyone will say it’s hard to break in with the locals but we are a pretty mobile population in health. We’re not a transient population in Tasmania but a lot of people have that experience of making brand new connections. I’m an extroverted introvert, but having just gone through that big shift in life I can get a huge buzz off just meeting interesting people.”
This job was promising that ability to become this human liaison. A Tasmanian liaison with people who potentially wanted to move down here and to help facilitate them into a Tasmanian life.
Scott’s own career began as a clinician, eight years as a physiotherapist, before moving into leadership and a Masters Degree in Health Management.
When Scott first saw that email about this job, sitting on his balcony in Western Australia, he thought about what he liked best about his role at the hospital in Perth. “It was the human connection with clinicians. I loved getting to the bottom of why someone might not be performing as their best self, and then helping to make the necessary changes so they could thrive. This job was promising that ability to become this human liaison. A Tasmanian liaison with people who potentially wanted to move down here and to help facilitate them into a Tasmanian life.”
His role is unusual, unlike any other in the country, which Scott has come to understand as typically Tasmanian: marketing and communications, HR, migration law, and the process-oriented work of moving things through health bureaucracy. Then there’s the crucial aspect of leadership, figuring out how to help people do their best work.
“People in health are unanimously intelligent and altruistic,” he says. “So if they’re having a bad day at work, or they’re not performing as you think they should be, it’s often because of environmental or structural issues. Or maybe they’ve lost their way a bit.”
In Perth and now, even more pointedly here in Tasmania, Scott’s job is to redirect health workers to their purpose. In and out of the hospital and the clinic. Part of it is taking a moment to remember the special magic of the place where they live and work — which might mean a move to Tasmania.
“This is really such an idyllic life,” he says, “an amazing place to just fully live. Like at the moment, I walk down from home and sit in Prince’s Square and read a book in the sun. It just feels way too good.”