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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Vale Dr William (Bill) Orchard

1956 Olympics men's waterpolo team. 
Bill Orchard front row, 2nd from right. 
Photo courtesy ow.ly/DBdlF

Renowned psychiatrist and former Olympian Dr Bill Orchard died last week at the age of 84. Dr Orchard was the driving force behind the development of mental health services in Victorian general hospitals in the 1970s.

Dr Orchard studied to be a psychiatrist in the US and UK as a Fulbright scholar and was later appointed Honorary Psychiatrist, Head of Unit at Prince Henry’s Hospital.

He played a seminal role in the establishment of the revitalised Psychiatry Unit and a Psychiatry Training program at Prince Henry's. This in turn provided a fertile context for the establishment of the Monash University Department of Psychological Medicine.

“Dr Orchard attracted a broad range of honorary psychiatrist colleagues to Prince Henry’s,” said former colleague and close friend Emeritus Professor Graeme Smith. “Although heavily influenced by psychoanalysis, their experience and approach was broad, as was required in a training program.”

The Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry service and associated training program initiated by Dr Orchard and Professor Wallace Ironside in the 1970s produced a number of leading psychiatrists and allied professionals including David Clarke, David Copolov, David Kissane, Nicholas Keks, Jayashri Kulkarni and Graeme Smith.

“Dr Orchard displayed enormous enthusiasm in promoting the field of mental health and insisting on adequate funding for services and training,” added Professor Smith.

“He eagerly confronted those whom he felt were discriminating against patients with mental health problems, and was not afraid of the repercussions of his advocacy.”

An inspiring and effective teacher and clinical supervisor, Dr Orchard frequently demonstrated his clinical skills to students and trainees.

“He took a particular interest in the welfare of trainees, giving wise counsel to many,” said Professor Smith.

“They, and many others, owe a great debt to him for his generous and formative contributions to the field.”

Although not widely known, Dr Orchard represented Australia twice at the Olympic Games in water polo, first in 1952 in Helsinki, and then at the 1956 Games in Melbourne.

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