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Recognition belongs to sector, says honoured aged care leader

Long-serving aged care chief executive Vaughan Harding has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to aged care organisations.

Vaughan Harding

Mr Harding was one of 958 Australians recognised in Thursday’s Australia Day 2017 Honours List.

He has been at the helm of West Australian provider Juniper for 28 years and was chair of national provider peak Aged & Community Services Australia from 2012 to 2015.

Mr Harding said aged care CEOs only survived because of the many great people working with them, including colleagues from other organisations.

“It is rather a big picture view to what the award means; it is certainly not about the individual person,” Mr Harding told Australian Ageing Agenda.

The recognition was an opportunity to try to establish the place of the aged care sector in the life of the Australian community, he said.

“Our community needs to know that a lot of time and energy goes into responding to the needs of older Australians and I don’t think it is well understood.”

LASA chair, leading researcher recognised

Also recognised yesterday was Graeme Blackman, chair of aged care provider peak body Leading Age Services Australia, who was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.

Dr Blackman’s past and present appointments include positions in the private, not-for-profit and government sectors in aged care, pharmaceuticals and biotechnologies, education and the Anglican Diocese.

Professor Leon Flicker, a leading expert in geriatric medicine, dementia and Indigenous ageing issue, was also awarded an AO yesterday.

Professor Flicker is director of the WA Centre for Health and Ageing and inaugural Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Western Australia since 1998. He is a board director and WA president of the Australian Association of Gerontology.

Opportunity to celebrate aged care

Mr Harding said that the sector was often subject to negative publicity and he welcomed the opportunity to celebrate the work and activities of the hundreds and thousands of people who worked in aged care.

“Particularly the people who are hands on providing the day-to-day services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, working unsociable hours and dealing with the needs of people that most families struggle to respond to.”

Mr Harding said the constant change and the rewarding nature of the work continued to motivate him in his role at Juniper, which he described as challenging but interesting due to the vast range of functions in his remit.

“I have enjoyed the journey over a long period of time; I have been very lucky in that regard,” he said.

Senior Australian of the Year

Elsewhere yesterday Sister Anne Gardiner was announced the 2017 Senior Australian of the Year.

The Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health Ken Wyatt said the award recognised Sister Anne’s many achievements as well as the high regard in which she is held by the Tiwi people.

“As school principal, teacher, mentor, spiritual guide and friend, Sister Anne has lived and worked alongside the Tiwi people for 50 years educating generations of children and strengthening the community through groups like mother’s clubs and Little Athletics.

“Like many older Australians who have retired, Sister Anne remains active and engaged in the life of her community,” Mr Wyatt said.

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