Class of 1973

Dr Hannes Gebauer joins the ranks of impressive Aquinians who have been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. He received his for his contribution to his two great passions: dermatology and hockey. Modestly Hannes argues that academically he was an underachiever and suffered from boredom. His strategy for dealing with this was to always set himself new challenges.

Hannes was born the first of three brothers to an athletic Polish electrician Henry and Dawn Hancock from Kalgoorlie. He arrived at Aquinas in 1969 as a boarder from Darwin and a champion swimmer but lost interest when the school could not provide a proper pool without jellyfish. Instead, he turned to hockey and music before changing course to medicine. In an early sign of his characteristic entrepreneurship, he and his mate Frank Kittler recruited a music teacher: Mr David Way, the trombonist in “JT and the Jazzmen”, Perth’s leading big band. In Year 9, in 1970, Hannes persuaded the headmaster to run music and was one of the first students to graduate in it in Year 11.

Choosing to pursue a medical career, Hannes suddenly found focus. He asked Br Hassam if he could decline the opportunity to be a prefect in lieu of study. After Aquinas he graduated from UWA with an MB BS in 1980 and became a Fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists six years later when he also set up his own private practices in Fremantle and Rockingham. While building a reputation as one of the state’s most eminent dermatologists he also returned to his alma mater to devote huge amounts of time, energy and dollars to the establishment of a world-class synthetic hockey surface at Aquinas College.

He calls himself a “turnaround director” and attributes this quality to the best cure of boredom. Now his three children also act as a prevention to becoming bored.

In his supporting statement for Hannes’ Order of Australia citation Br Pat Kelly wrote: “He is one of those people who gently slips into your vision having made a most unobtrusive entry. One gradually becomes aware of the truth he speaks and the sincerity with which he speaks it.” He also wrote that in Hannes’ “…work done for others, we note the regularity of the repeated occurrence of dreams combined with determination, hard work, good will, pleasantness, generosity, relentless application, truthfulness, honesty and consideration of the others’ points of view.”

Looking back Hannes reflects on the fact that “… there is nothing more important in life than friendship, purpose and a sense of belonging”