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Stalwarts celebrate half a century of service

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Stalwarts celebrate half a century of service

​Two Western Health stalwarts are celebrating half a century of service to their community.

It's an astounding accomplishment when you consider that the average Australian now spends fewer than four years in each role and amasses 17 different employers.

But for Joy Robertson and Spasoje (Spaso) Miljesic, the Footscray Emergency Department (ED) is more than just a job; it's become part of their purpose in life.

The pair has made an indelible mark on emergency medicine in Melbourne's West over the past 50 years.

Spaso is the master of broken and dislocated bones, while many remark that Joy is the backbone of the ED.

Both staff members are extremely knowledgeable, but they are also eager to impart their wisdom on others.

Joy, a clerical worker, always had a strong desire to help others.

"I always wanted to be a nurse, but I had a bad back so I applied for a position as a clerk. I was earning $28 a week and I thought it would be a temporary role that I'd do until something else came up.

 That was 1971. When asked what occurred in the intervening years to contribute to her career longevity, Joy said Footscray ED felt like family.

"Footscray ED just gets into your blood," she said.

Joy sits within in the ED, acting as a central point for the clinical staff.

Her role and responsibilities are many and varied; answering phones, managing the flow of paperwork, booking ambulances and organising ward transfers.

She is also part of the social glue of the health service — her sausage rolls and muffins are almost as sought after as her professional skills and experience.

"When I began on the ED front desk there were no computers, mobiles or pagers and we stood up all day—so much has changed over the years.

"And now, well there is COVID-19. That's been the most challenging time in my career because of its impact on every area of our life."

Spaso and Joy.JPGSpaso (as he is affectionately known) began his career in August 1971 as an enrolled nurse.

He became an orthopaedic technician, a position that he has remained in ever since.

Thousands of Victorians have benefited from his expertise over the years.

Spaso has taught fellow staff members about the management of broken bones and dislocations and immobilisation of plaster; reading and interpreting X-rays and the reduction and management of dislocations.

He has even developed his own technique for treating shoulder dislocations known as the 'Spaso technique' that is now used around the world.

Seventy five years young, Spaso said he loves his job so much that he only wishes he could turn back the clock and do it for another 50 years.

To his delight, every now and again he meets people at the supermarket or on the street who recognise him from Footscray ED.

"They say remember me? You fixed my wrist and I haven't had a problem with it since," Spaso said.

"I just love helping people that's what motivates me."

 In 2017 Spaso received the Orthopaedic Department Registrar's Award for providing outstanding service and support.

He was also recognised by the University of Melbourne in 2019 for his dedication and commitment to teaching in the Doctor of Medicine Program.

"Your expertise and guidance is invaluable to our students during their time at Western Health," Associate Professor Stephen Lew said at the time.

Western Health emergency physician Dr Andrew Tagg said Joy and Spaso's career longevity is a testament to the feeling of belonging that working in Footscray ED brings.

"Joy has trained generations of clerks (and doctors too, if truth be told) whilst Spaso has had his hand the training of hundreds of would-be orthopaedic surgeons."

"Without either of them, it is fair to say, that Footscray ED would not be the place it is today— kind-hearted and filled with the sense of belonging to more than an organisation, but to a family."

Joy Robertson  (2).jpg