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Herstory – Dr Kate Wylie Chair DEA

Herstory: Dr Kate Wylie Chair DEA

Meet Dr Kate Wylie

Dr Kate Wylie, Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) and Chair, RACGP Climate and Environmental Medicine Specific Interest Group shares her insights with AFMW Herstory. Kate describes who influenced her, what gets her up each day and how she manages to maintain the level of energy required to tackle the big issue of climate change. Kate is a powerhouse and a skilled presenter who helps people tap into their own resource pool, to help make this a better world.

Dr Kate Wylie’s Story

Name: Dr Kate Wylie

Country Born: Australia

University training: Flinders University

Year of graduation: 2005

State membership: South Australia

Profession / Specialty: GP


My Career

I was born in Broken Hill (Wiljali), a mining town in outback NSW. Broken Hill’s proud union legacy instilled a deep respect for workers rights and the need for eternal vigilance with the class struggle.

It’s red dirt ingrained a love of our outback, of ghost gums in sandy creek beds, of wedge-tailed eagles circling for prey and of the beautiful Baarka (Darling River) bringing water
to the dry rugged land.

Both my parents were doctors and my early memories include waiting in the car (window down!) while Mum or Dad went on a house call and of the phone ringing in the middle of the night that meant one of them was being called into the emergency department.

Fast forward fifty years and these formative childhood experiences can be seen in the woman that I have become and the values that I hold.

I believe that healthcare is a human right and as a GP I want all members of our communities to enjoy equal access to health care, irrespective of their income, gender, sexuality or colour. As inadequate government support is forcing more and more GPs to charge for their services, it angers me that the most disadvantaged members of our society are hit hardest.

I know that we have to stand up to injustice and I believe that we all have a responsibility to work for a fair and equitable world.

The most pressing injustice we face right now is climate change. Climate change is causing immense suffering, it is the greatest health issue facing humanity and these health effects can be seen now both globally and in Australia. It is a social justice issue with women, people of colour and those living in poverty being disproportionately affected.

Climate change is destroying the beauty of our natural world and we are living in the 6th great mass extinction event of our planet’s history. Droughts, floods, and fires not only impact humanity, they also decimate ecosystems, killing animals and plants, reducing numbers beyond the point of recovery.

I volunteer for climate action because I cannot sit by and watch our planet suffer without trying to do something about it. As a doctor I am a privileged member of our society and as such it is incumbent upon me to lend my arm in the fight for climate justice.

In 2016, I joined Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) because I was inspired to see doctors who recognise the need for planetary health and who were advocating for a health based response to the climate crisis. Working with these like minded souls has been highly gratifying, validating and emotionally supportive.

With DEA, I have been involved in political advocacy, election campaigns, community outreach and medical education. In January 2023, I was elected as chairperson of the board which is an honour and a responsibility that I take very seriously.

My childhood in Broken Hill taught me that although all humans are inherently equal, they do not enjoy equal privilege and we have a responsibility to stand for human rights. It taught me to love nature and see the rights of our natural world as just as important as the rights of humanity.

These lessons set me on the path to becoming the woman I am. A GP who believes in intersectional feminism and planetary justice and who will use her voice for climate action.


Mentor Information

I have never had a mentor per se, but there are two women who I want to acknowledge and who are an important part of my identity.

The first is my mum, Dr Judith Ann Talbot (deceased). Mum graduated in the late 60’s at a time where women doctors were still a rarity. Because of her I grew up thinking women can do anything, that we are inherently capable and our opinions, needs and ideas are valid. The world we inhabit is filled with gendered inequity but my Mum worked hard to keep those ideas out of my childhood home.

The second is my Aunty Elva (deceased). Elva looked after my brother and I while Mum and Dad worked. Elva could turn her hand to anything. She spun her own wool, grew her own food, made clothes and painted these beautiful landscapes that captured the harsh beauty of outback Australia. There was no room for bigotry at Elva’s house, she abhorred racism. She taught me that all people are equal no matter the colour of their skin.

I was lucky to be brought up by these two women who believed in equity and human rights.


Three Things  I Learnt

1. The world is run by those who turn up, so turn up.

If you want the world to reflect your values, then you need to turn up for it. Not everyone has the capacity to be involved in decision making roles, but those of us who do, have a responsibility to be there making sure fair and equitable decisions are made.

2. Do something – everything you do is something that is done and that wouldn’t be done if you didn’t do it.

The problems facing our world can seem overwhelming and none of us can solve them alone. All of us, though, can make positive contributions within our own spheres and the more of us
that do good things the better.

3. Be brave and have courage.

We live in a time of great injustice and inequity and we need to stand up and fight for the rights of humanity and nature. We owe it to our children to work for a livable planet and we owe it to all the women who have fought for our emancipation to ensure these rights are upheld.


My Pearls of Wisdom for Others

As women doctors, we are powerful, capable people who make a difference in the lives of our patients, our friends and family.

Unfortunately for us, we are living in a vital time for our planet’s future. The IPCC tells us that the actions humanity makes this decade will shape the degree of global warming and the
extent of the climate crisis.

In light of this great need, we have a responsibility to work for the good of humanity and our planet.



Thank you Dr Kate Wylie, for you energy, passion and committment. AFMW has a close relationship with DEA and we share your concern about climate change, the human impact on the planet and how inevitably, it all impacts our health.


Magdalena Simonis
President, Australian Federation of Medical Women


An online E book of AFMW members and their mentors

About ‘Herstory’

The online AFMW Herstory E-Book, gives AFMW members the opportunity to contribute to the AFMW oral tapestry, by forming a compilation of  ‘our mentoring stories’, in which we  honour those who have changed our lives. Making this an online AFMW story book, encourages us each to consider contributing to building this over the years, into a collection of medical women’s key take home messages’, as we share the wisdom we each have gained from our own lived experiences.  The ‘golden nugget of wisdom’ that we would share with someone who asked us about what we have learned.

Add Your Story

If you would like to contribute your story, please download the Herstory template (Word doc), add your details and return the completed form to [email protected]. Please also submit a photo of yourself with this. It can be a ‘selfie’ taken with a good camera that you would be happy to have others see.


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