Dr Virginia Saxton has helped save and improve lives thousands of kilometres away simply by running a workshop for aspiring radiologists.
Dr Virginia Saxton has dedicated her career to looking beyond the surface. As director of Mercy Hospital for Women’s radiology department she spends her days detecting problems only a trained eye can see. Thousands of kilometres away, a team of charity workers is watching the streets of Cambodia to protect women and girls through a charity Dr Saxton
supports. It’s another expression of her compassionate focus on female health and wellbeing.
“Over the past year I’ve become more aware of the global scale of the sex slave trade,” she
explains. “It’s a massive, horrific problem, particularly for children in developing countries. Having watched programs about it I kept thinking ‘What if one of my children was abducted off the street or put in that position?’
“Then I came across Destiny Rescue, a charity that focuses on rescuing those kids — who in that trade are mainly girls — in Asia, where it’s really prevalent.”
An idea was born. As the majority of Victorian doctors preparing to become radiologists complete part of their training at Mercy Hospital for Women, Dr Saxton saw a chance to channel her expertise into creating a better future for at-risk girls. “Destiny Rescue quotes a figure of $1,500 to save a child. That includes watching communities to work out how they can free the child and talking with local police. So I aimed to raise at least $1,500
by offering training.” The result is a workshop to help radiology registrars prepare for their final exams in which each participant
donates their $150 registration fee directly to the charity.
While the workshop is the only one of its kind currently offered in Victoria, even Dr Saxton was surprised by its success.
“I had more people register than I thought I would,” she explains. “We raised enough to save about 1.4 children so I donated extra to make it two. We had excellent feedback on the course so I hope to be able to run it twice a year. The participants this time included fully qualified radiologists who came all the way from Bendigo and Wagga Wagga. They said it would be great refresher course
for any practitioner.”
Yet no one doubted it was Dr Saxton’s use of the proceeds which was truly revolutionary.
“The registrars were really positive about the donations,” confirms Dr Saxton. “It was wonderful to hear them say ‘a pleasure to give money to something like that’ ‘what a great charity’ ‘good to see something being done differently’. And I was thrilled because perhaps it sets a precedent, so when these registrars organise similar courses in future they might consider doing the same thing.”
On top of meeting her target donation for Destiny Rescue Dr Saxton also raised enough to support a second women’s charity, Mully Children’s Family Charitable Foundation.
“This is an orphanage in Kenya which aims, amongst other things, to help single mums, who risk being abused and exploited, to gain new skills that will help them look after themselves and their children,” says Dr Saxton. “So if those mums can learn a skill such as
how to use a knitting machine, they can then get a job, which is obviously a long-term solution. I was able to donate $2,000 towards that which is fantastic. That’s 12 knitting machines which the orphanage will be able to use for training now and for years to come. So that’s a lot of single mums helped indirectly.”
Using her own time and partnering with Austin Hospital to host the workshop, Dr Saxton has invested much energy and many weekends to benefit women and girls she will never meet. Her explanation is one the founding Sisters of Mercy would have no trouble
understanding. “I wanted to rescue at least one child,’’ Dr Saxton says. “The thing that kept me going through this whole process was knowing it was going to make a difference in someone’s life.”
“I didn’t want to take any money. It should go to people who really need it.”