Innovative NFP Leaders Shine at HESTA Awards
Wednesday, 30th August 2017 at 1:56 pm
The Queensland founder of a not-for-profit organisation helping refugees access health care, and an oral health therapist who developed a free dental cleaning service for homeless youth have received top honours at the national 2017 HESTA Primary Health Care Awards.
The awards recognise the innovation, dedication and professionalism of individuals and teams working across primary health care.
HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said the 2017 winners were selected for their outstanding leadership, improving patient health outcomes and for increasing access to health services in communities across Australia.
“This year’s winners stood out from an exceptional group of finalists for their outstanding leadership,” Blakey said.
“They have implemented innovative services that has improved patient access to health care, contributing to enhanced health outcomes for those they treat and their communities.
The Individual Distinction Award went to Dr Claire Jones who was recognised for founding not-for-profit organisation Australian Refugee and Migrant Care Services (ARMCare), which helps refugees in Queensland attain equality of access to health care services.
Working as the executive director of ARMCare, Jones also volunteered her time working as a liaison between refugees and doctors, “increasing health parity for refugees facing barriers such as language, culture and lack of education when accessing health care”.
Hesta said her outstanding leadership had positively impacted the community, reducing mental health stigma, increasing community health literacy, and increasing the use of preventative health services by refugees.
Jones said the refugees she helped often come from diverse backgrounds, sometimes with little health care knowledge.
“Having a health care system is often foreign to the individuals we serve, and frequently when refugees arrive in Australia they suffer complex health issues related to trauma. There are so many quality cross-cultural care,” Jones said.
She said the award and prize money was motivation to keep continuing to develop ARMcare’s “life-changing” services.
The Young Leader Award went to another Queenslander, Nicole Cockburn who was recognised for developing Dental Rescue Week — a free dental service providing homeless youth dental treatment and oral health education.
Run four times a year by volunteer dental practitioners, the clinic provides homeless youth with dental examinations, cleans, fillings, oral hygiene education and referral information for more extensive treatment.
The free service has successfully provided dental practitioners the opportunity to volunteer their expertise, in addition to a framework to inform other professions on how to implement a low cost, sustainable service using the same format.
Cockburn said she worked closely with homeless youth organisation, Brisbane Youth Service, to successfully secure funding to set up the free week, which is run within the NFPs existing service framework.
“When a young homeless person is able to attend a job interview because their tooth has been fixed and they can now smile, I find that very rewarding,” Cockburn said.
“I believe everyone deserves equal access to dental care, regardless of their background or circumstances. This is not an issue that can be fixed overnight and I find my work rewarding as everything I do helps close the gap in access to dental care for the community.”
The HESTA award details can be found here.