Australian Story: Sept 13

Sydney GP Dr Jamal Rifi has turned his front yard to a drive-through testing station, in southwest Sydney.

On Monday Australian Story revisits Sydney GP Dr Jamal Rifi, who has gone to extra lengths to help vaccinate the people of Canterbury-Bankstown area.

Australian Story first profiled Sydney GP Dr Jamal Rifi in 2015, when he was paying a high price for speaking out against the radicalisation of Muslim youth.

Fast forward six years and Dr Rifi is again in the spotlight as he fights to protect his community of southwest Sydney against the Covid Delta outbreak and convince people vaccination is the only way out.

He’s put his retirement on hold and sacrificed his front yard to a drive-through testing station, enlisting his family to help.

“A lot of people have said it’s a bit crazy to put a tent in the front yard but… he won’t say no. Actions speak louder than words and he’s a man full of actions,” says his son Faisal, who works for his father as a nurse.

“It’s classic Dr Rifi; unconventional but ultimately aimed at getting a result,” says friend and state NSW MP Jihad Dib.

Dr Rifi is also playing a vital role in decoding government advertising and fighting mixed messaging in his community.

“Without any doubt the government should have done better,” he says. “They should have developed a media strategy with Australians of non-English background.”

For now, Dr Rifi’s retirement dreams remain on hold as his newly delivered motorhome languishes outside his medical clinic. But he hasn’t lost hope.

“We just need to be able to travel,” he says. “Once we get out of lockdown we can go… when my job is done by vaccinating almost everyone in the Canterbury-Bankstown area.

Producer: Ben Cheshire

8pm Monday on ABC.

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