Thursday, April 25, 2024

End-of-life care advocate WA’s Australian of the Year

The 2023 WA Australian of the Year has been named as 63-year-old researcher and advocate for end-of-life care, bereavement and grief support, Professor Samar Aoun.

Professor Samar Aoun advocates for a person-centred approach to end-of-life care, focussing on under-served groups such as those with motor neurone disease (MND) and dementia, terminally ill people who live alone and family carers.

As Perron Institute Research Chair in Palliative Care at the University of Western Australia, Samar is known as an international leader in the advocacy of public health approaches to palliative care.

Her work has strengthened the Compassionate Communities movement that mobilises and equips people to better support those facing death and bereavement.

As co-founder and chair of the South West Compassionate Communities Network, Samar also volunteers in roles including director on the MND Australia Board, president of the MND Association of WA and a board member of Palliative Care WA.

Among numerous awards, Samar received the Medal for Excellence from the European Society for Person Centered Healthcare in 2018 and the Centenary Medal in 2003 from Australia’s Prime Minister.

The award was announced at a ceremony in Perth last night.

Community advocate Theresa Kwok was named as the 2023 WA Senior Australian of the Year.

With a background in social work, Theresa has been helping migrants settle in Australia from the moment she arrived from Hong Kong 35 years ago.

For most of this time, she has supported older migrants from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities at Perth’s Chung Wah Community and Aged Care. Theresa is now CEO of the organisation, which delivers a range of community care programs for clients, their families and ethnic communities. She looks after about 800 clients.

Theresa helps elderly members of CALD communities to live independently and has created more equitable access to culturally appropriate migrant and aged-care services across all communities.

Recognised with multiple awards for her efforts, 68-year-old Theresa is constantly reshaping how aged and community care services are delivered to meet changing demands.

Her advocacy continues to raise awareness of the unique challenges and strengths of CALD older people within government, service providers and CALD communities.

For the full list of WA winners, visit australianoftheyear.org.au.

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