Doctor Gillian Deakin was born and raised in Sydney, the seventh of nine children. Her physician father provided the family with a health focus unusual for the sixities: homegrown food, daily aerobics and cold showers. She completed her medical degree at the University of Sydney in 1980. After extensive travelling, Gillian undertook three years of post-graduate research with the Baker Medical Research Institute, including a year at Davis Station in Antarctica that led to her Doctorate of Medicine from Monash University in Melbourne. She then went on to complete a Master's Degree in Public Health at the University of Sydney.
With her husband, the actor Chris Haywood, and their two young children, Gillian travelled overseas to work in Kiribati, a tropical paradise with extremely poor health standards. Returning to Sydney, Gillian has worked mainly as a general practitioner.
Monthly clinics with the Royal Flying Doctor Service provide insight into health in a rural setting. As an examiner for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners she promotes a high standard of care in general practice for Australians.
Gillian also has training in nutrition, environmental medicine and acupuncture. She is a regular practitioner of yoga and meditation and has an organic vegetable garden and free-range chickens at her home in Bondi. Gillian has incorporated this broad approach to health in her work by establishing a multidisciplinary health centre, which delivers a range of services beyond general practice, including psychology, acupuncture, Ayuvedic medicine, physiotherapy and massage.