Top doctor goes from face of pandemic to calendar pin-up

Victoria's CHO, Professor Brett Sutton, agreed to feature in the 2022 fundraising calendar to raise awareness of climate change

Christmas is sorted for the many fans of Professor Brett Sutton following the release of a new photo-laden calendar of the doctor who led Victoria through the worst of the pandemic.

As Chief Health Officer, Professor Sutton has amassed tens of thousands of fans due to his daily TV appearances during the state’s COVID-19 outbreaks.

More than 25,000 people are members of Facebook fan clubs set up in honour of the CHO including the ‘Brett Sutton Fan Club’ (4.7k), ‘Brett Sutton is hot’ (15.4k members), the ‘Give the #CHOttie a virtual hug’ (1k).

Now those fans can keep their favourite doctor in their sights all year round with his 2022 wall calendar, which Professor Sutton agreed to take part in to raise awareness and funds for climate change.

The limited-edition glossy calendar features 15 full-colour photos, with a personal plea from Professor Sutton for people to take action on climate change.

Each month there is also a public health message related to temperature extremes.

If sales from the inaugural 2021 calendar are anything to go by, this year’s calendar, will sell out fast.

Read more about Professor Sutton: My year as Victoria’s deputy chief health officer

The calendar is the brainchild of Leanne Tonkes, a film and TV producer at film company Sense & Centsability, who found inspiration during Melbourne’s second COVID-19 lockdown last year.

Welcome to May with Professor Brett Sutton.

For 120 days straight, Professor Sutton fronted a daily press conference to provide updates on the state’s second wave. While he faced a lot of criticism over the ongoing restrictions and lockdowns, more than 11,000 rushed to sign a petition of thanks, organised by Ms Tonkes.

When the cases finally fell to less than five a day, the press conferences stopped, leaving many people grieving his absence and reassuring updates, she explained.

She realised a calendar with public health messages would be one way to bring Professor Sutton back into their lives.

While he was hesitant to feed into the ‘cult of personality’, Professor Sutton agreed because it was an opportunity to leverage public health messaging.

“Last year we sold 2200 copies raising over $17,500 for Medecins Sans Frontieres and The Smith Family,” Ms Tonkes told 6minutes.

“I’ve had messages of thanks from 80 plus people (many women) and much younger supporters too — some early 20s and younger. I’ve had people make me Christmas cakes and send cards to say thank you for creating the calendar.”

The calendar was also invited into the collections of the State Library and Museums Victoria.

When Ms Tonkes approached Professor Sutton this year, he agreed with her suggestion that the focus should be on climate change.

“[But] he said he was surprised people still wanted calendars and not dartboards.”

This year’s calendar includes a foreword by Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty.

Funds will go to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Foundation House. 

More information: Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton 2022 calendar

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