Calvary tops Tasmanian palliative care awards

A Calvary hospitality manager with a passion for providing nutritious food for patients nearing the end of life has been named outstanding service provider at the 2023 Tasmanian Palliative Care Awards.

All three finalists in the outstanding service provider category were Calvary staff or services.

Robert Johnston

The Hospitality Services Manager for Calvary’s two Launceston hospitals, Rob Johnston, has worked as an executive chef at national and international hotels, including Tasmanian icon Tall Timbers Hotel and the Crazy Duck in George Town.

Calvary’s Rob Johnston (centre) accepts his award from Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker, Governor of Tasmania and Patron of Palliative Care Tasmania (right), and Todd Kennedy from award sponsor, the Public Trustee (left).


Rob joined Calvary early last year and oversees the food produced for patients at St Vincent’s and at St Luke’s, including patients on the Melwood palliative care unit.

Palliative Care Tasmania said Rob modeled a patient-centred approach to end-of-life-care, using his passion for food and his research into end-of-life nutrition to embrace the challenge of providing nutritious and delicious food. Where possible, he uses moulded foods and foams to provide patients with what they like while meeting their dietary requirements.


The Melwood Unit, Launceston

The Melwood Unit in Launceston was a finalist in the awards, with the team praised for a willingness to go above and beyond to provide excellent care and exceptional support to patients and families.

This might be as simple as being able to gaze toward the nearby mountains, or cuddle up with visiting dog, Tilly. Sometimes it might be being set up to spend precious time at home, or for some, being able to experience a final wish.


Stevie Dwyer

Stevie Dwyer, care coordinator in the palliative care and oncology unit at Calvary St John’s Hospital in Hobart, was runner-up in the category.

Stevie was nominated by the daughter of a former patient who lauded her as being representative of the whole of the Gibson Unit team.

“From day one, my mother was welcomed into care not only by Stevie but by every staff member and volunteer. As a relative I was made to feel not only welcome, but an important part of the team,” she wrote on the nomination.

“(The whole team) befriended my mother in a tangible way that brightened every minute of every day until she died. That is something truly exceptional.”


Tasmanian Palliative Care Honour Roll

To top the awards off for Calvary, retired long-time manager of the Gibson Unit in Hobart, Deborah Foster, was inducted on to the Tasmanian Palliative Care Honour Roll.

In announcing the award, Palliative Care Tasmania CEO Veney Hiller thanked Deborah for her “years of teaching, nurturing, caring, leadership and advocacy within palliative care”.

The awards celebrate compassion and excellence in the care of those who are living with a life-limiting illness, dying or grieving in Tasmania. Finalists have been selected by a panel of peers.

Now in their seventh year, the 2023 awards were announced at a ceremony at Government House in Hobart on Tuesday and presented by Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker, Governor of Tasmania and Patron of Palliative Care Tasmania.

Cynthia Dowell, Calvary’s Regional CEO for Tasmania and Victoria, praised the dedication, care and compassion of Calvary staff and volunteers working in palliative care across the state, as well as the courage of the patients they serve.

“I am very proud of the palliative care services we provide in Tasmania and the people who provide quality care and support, compassion and dignity for our patients and their families in what are often difficult times,” Ms Dowell said.

“I know our palliative care staff consider their work a passion and a privilege, and are committed to putting patients and their families at the heart of their care.”

You can read about all of the award winners on Palliative Care Tasmania’s website at