May 4, 2022

Farewell John Snowdon

After more than 50 years of practising law, John Snowdon has called it a day.

John’s career in law began in private practice, working in the sector for many years until one day, he received a call from Monash Health with an offer to be their Senior Lawyer.

“I spent 13 years in that job and then I retired at the age of 68. I was then asked to stay on for a year, part time, to manage their litigation,” John said.

“At the beginning of November 2015, Siva Sivarajah had been appointed as interim Chief Executive at Northern Health. I was still working at Monash Health at the time, and he asked me if I would like to come to Northern Health and fill in for six weeks. I had worked with Siva for a decade before I came here.”

“So I came over and filled in for six weeks. Then Siva was appointed in the full-time role as Chief Executive, and he asked me if I would like to stay on. If you told me in November 2015 that I would still be here in 2022, I would have laughed.”

John’s journey has been full of surprises. One of his greatest, yet rewarding challenges, has been not knowing how each day will unfold.

“You can come into work, expect that your day is planned and by 8.30 am, plans are turned over on their head. You just don’t know what you’re going to come across and that’s part of what has made my journey very interesting and worthwhile,” he said.

John said his career in law taught him to not be judgmental, and to listen to people’s story, so he can “walk the journey with them rather than against them.”

“Dealing with families and patients at a time of great upset, suffering or fear, you stop being a legal person in one sense, and try and understand how people are feeling,” he said.

“You become a more rounded person and have more understanding of the grief, upset and concerns of other people. You see things quite differently.”

“One of the things that I hope I have done here at Northern Health is make it absolutely clear that one of our major reasons for being here is to support and assist our staff, particularly our nurses and doctors.”

During his time at Northern Health, John worked with many different staff from many different departments.

“One team that is fairly unrecognised are the security officers. They deal with people in extraordinary circumstances. I have nothing but respect for the way they turn the other cheek in circumstances where I would just lose it. That has been really impressive and it’s been noticeably consistent amongst the security staff for the last six years,” he said.

“The other group I have become closely involved with are the Aboriginal Liaison Officers. I have learnt more about the Aboriginal community and its relationships with the health services in the last six years than I had in the previous 60 years.”

“People who work here, choose to work here – I think that is really important. I think our staff, over the last two years during COVID-19, have really performed in quite an amazing and dedicated way.”

John plans to spend his well deserved retirement travelling with his family.

Thank you John for your dedication and support of Northern Health over the years.