Where are they now – Geoff Tan (SPC 1985-88)
June 22, 2022
The College recently reconnected with Geoff Tan (SPC 1985-88) whose work as an environmental health officer has made for a very busy time during recent disasters including the NSW bushfire and COVID-19 pandemic, however it has made for a very challenging, interesting, varied and rewarding career.
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
Well, straight after SPC, I enrolled in a B.Commerce at Deakin University in 1989 but dropped out after a year as it bored me to tears.
After that, I enrolled at Swinburne University and graduated with a B. App. Sc (Environmental Health) in 1994 and have been an environmental health officer (EHO) since.
My skills are transferable and I initially worked for City of Melbourne as a cadet EHO in 1994 as part of my industry based learning.
I moved to Mackay (far north Queensland) in 1996 and worked for the then Mackay City Council.
Seeking further challenges, I moved to Sydney at the end of 1997, working for NSW Ministry of Health (NSW MoH) where I have been ever since.
NSW MoH has been a challenging, interesting, varied and rewarding workplace over the past 24.5 years. I was involved in work which the general public does not normally hear of including various health inspections and investigations, emergency management preparedness and responses (eg response to the 1998 Greater Sydney reticulated water contamination, the 2000 Sydney Olympics, APEC 2007, World Youth Day 2008, various influenza outbreaks (avian/swine), recent NSW bushfire and COVID-19 pandemic and whatever else that does not fit squarely within the general responsibilities of NSW MoH. Inspections of anatomy laboratories at higher education institutions have been interesting!
How is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic affecting your work and industry?
Working for NSW MoH meant that we were at the forefront of the pandemic response. Lots of busy days and sleepless nights. And lots of visits to my dentist – lots of teeth grinding and teeth clenching.
Do you have family ties with SPC?
No, I was the only person in my family that attended SPC.
What are your fondest memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?
Coming to SPC from Malaysia in 1985, Ballarat was an introduction to my life in Australia. The super hot/cold weather of the former Victorian goldfields was something which I never experienced before and to this day, I shiver at the thought of the cold winters. However, the snowy winters I experienced was something to behold!
The boys in boarding school were welcoming and gave me an aspect of (country) life in Victoria/NSW which I would otherwise not have the opportunity to experience. As I learnt later; most boarders were from farming communities in Victoria and NSW.
Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
Peter Farley, Year 10 English, and Brother Miller, Year 11 Maths A & B. Both Peter Farley and Br Miller (the Big M) were very strict but very good English and Maths teachers, respectively.
How has your education shaped your professional life?
I wasn’t a particularly good/smart student but hard work gave me an opportunity and a good start to all that came my way.
How has your time at SPC shaped your personal values and your family life?
It gave me a moral compass, and a great start to living a meaningful life.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
Don’t worry if you don’t know what you should be studying or what is expected of you in your life. Do what you are interested in, and life will take you on a wonderful, roller coaster ride.