Sri Lankan-born doctor Selvanayagam Selvendra will retire from his Sunshine practise in June. The Taylors Lakes resident talks to Ben Cameron about his love for music and painting and arriving in Australia in 1974.
You’ve been at the same practice for more than four decades. Did you always want to be a doctor?
I always wanted to be a doctor. My mother wanted me to do medicine. My father said to go to Ireland, he’d finance it. I graduated in 1960, and worked in Ireland and England hospitals, and also worked in Sri Lanka for a few years. It will be 56 years in June as a doctor.
Why the move to Australia?
My brother completed his studies at Melbourne University and was working as an accountant here in Australia – he sponsored me.
What kept you in Sunshine for so long?
I’ve got my patients here – they’re very good, they keep coming to me.
Have some become friends over the years?
Yes – most of the patients, I know them well. I’m very happy here. I used to be a surgeon, I was doing surgery in private hospitals in Sunshine. I had to cut down my surgery as I got older.
Do you live locally, too?
We moved to Taylors Lakes 20 years ago from Maidstone. Very convenient place to live. Physically I’m still keeping well and I kept on working. But after 56 years (laughs) – it’s quite a long time and I like to do other things, like painting. I like music, Indian classical, Indian pop music and Western music. I also play in concerts.
What do you play?
I play the Jewish harp for Indian music, classical. I play various percussion instruments for Indian music concerts and at other functions. I have a big concert on the 24th of this month at Springvale Town Hall – it’s an Indian music concert, part of a group.
You have a few paintings on the wall in your office, I see.
I used to go to a painting teacher, a Polish lady … some pictures take me eight to 10 sessions to complete.
Have your children taken after you?
We have a son who is a specialist doctor, a psychiatrist at St Vincent’s Hospital. My daughter did business management and computer programming at university. My wife was a secondary school teacher in the area and is currently a practice manager at this clinic.
Your wife says “you’re doing far too much”. What other plans do you have for retirement?
We’ll do some travelling, although we’ve done quite a bit. I do what I can for the community. I’m thankful for the support of the community. Many of the patients have been coming for over 41 years. I am also thankful to all the specialists who cared for my patients and looked after them.