Long-serving aged care CEO Richard Hearn and elders council member Val Fell have been recognised for their service in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours.

Mr Hearn has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) “for significant service to aged care, and to the community” while Mrs Fell has been awarded a Medal of Order (OAM) “for service to people with dementia”.

They are among 669 recipients honoured in the General Division of the Order of Australia in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours list announced by the Governor General on Monday.

Richard Hearn

Mr Hearn was chief executive officer of South Australian aged care provider Resthaven from 1994 until his retirement in 2020. He commenced at the organisation as regional director in 1986.

His advocacy for the aged care sector included decades of involvement at state and national levels of provider peak body Aged and Community Care Australia and chair of the UnitingCare Aged Care Network from April 2017 – 2019 and the SA Innovation Hub.

Mr Hearn has also volunteered as a meal service volunteer with St Vincent de Paul’s Fred’s Van for 28 years, and continues to serve on several aged care-related boards and advisory committees.

In the lead up to his retirement, Mr Hearn told Australia Ageing Agenda it was a privilege to support the older people in their care. “There are people in our community who get to a stage where they are not as independent and at that time to maintain quality of life they will depend on services. It is important their needs are met. I see that as an important and worthy area to be working in,” he said.

Resthaven CEO Darren Birbeck congratulated Mr Hearn on behalf of Resthaven’s board, staff, volunteers, and 14,000 clients. “Richard has been an inspirational leader, who demonstrated unwavering advocacy and support for older people in our community. He is an incredibly worthy recipient of this honour,” Mr Birbeck said in a statement.

Supporting dementia carers

Mrs Fell, a consumer advocate, has been a member of Dementia Australia since 2006. She founded the Corrimal Dementia Support Group in 2013 following the death of her husband, who had lived with Alzheimer’s disease.

“I started it with six or seven people,” Ms Felll told Australian Ageing Agenda earlier this year. The group attracts 15-20 people to monthly meetings today. “People come with a problem and between us we help them cope with the situation that’s come about,” she said.

Mrs Fell also organised the Annual Illawarra Dementia Forum in Wollongong from 2011 to 2021 and spoke at a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Community forum.

In December 2021, she was appointed a founding member of the Council of Elders, which was established to provide advice from senior Australians to the Government about aged care reform and ageing generally. Mrs Fell is also a peer educator and volunteer ambassador with Council of the Ageing New South Wales and the recipient of Wollongong’s “Senior Citizen of the Year” in 2020.

Seniors Rights Service, which provides aged care advocacy, information and legal advice to older people in New South Wales, tweeted their “congratulations” to Mrs Fell for her award.

Honoured for service aged care

Elsewhere in the list, former community and hospital pharmacist George Greenberg from Malvern, Victoria, was appointed an AM “for significant service to aged care, and to medical advisory roles”.  

His contributions include serving on the board of Emmy Monash Aged Care from 2005 until 2022, during which time he was also a member and chair of several committees including the one focused on pharmacy. He was also a member of the Pharmacy Board of Victoria from 1994 to 2005.

Mrs Gael Perry from Geelong, Victoria, was awarded an OAM “for service to multicultural aged care, and to the community”. Mrs Perry has been a board member of Multicultural Aged Care Services since 2002,  during which time she was chair from 2014 to 2019, and the member of several committees including the Quality Committee, which she chaired from 2011 to 2014.

Mrs Perry is also a former aged care manager and community services officer with Colac Otway Shire. She has served on the boards and committees of numerous organisations including Geelong DoCare, which is now known as Karingal Inc., Kalkee Community Care, Wesley Uniting Church Geelong and Lazarus House Geelong.

See the fulll Queens Birthday 2022 Honours List here.

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