Calvary recognised in CHA highest honors for health and aged care

The Catholic Health Australia (CHA) National Awards 2018 pay tribute to exemplary innovation, excellence and contribution to health and aged care.

The Awards were presented at the National Catholic Health Australia Conference gala dinner held in Melbourne 28 August 2018.

Martin Bowles, Calvary’s National CEO noted that “Given CHA represents 80 not-for-profit hospitals, 25,000 aged care beds and  employ 83,300 people nation wide; anyone receiving an award has made a significant difference.

“So it is with great admiration that I congratulate the award winners, two of whom are with Calvary.”

CHA’s Chief Executive Suzanne Greenwood said “Each winner has displayed tremendous care, compassion and dedication to those in their care, to improving quality and meaning of life.”


The National Award winners are:

Sr Maria Cunningham Lifetime Contribution Award – Catherine (Kate) Birrell OAM, Melbourne

CHA’s highest honour was awarded to Kate for her 40 years of dedication to nursing, nursing education, and Catholic health.

CHA’s Chief Executive Suzanne Greenwood said every past recipient of this award has been a woman of a religious order or a member of the clergy, but this evening, we break from tradition.

“ The person we wish to honour is not a member of the clergy and is not a sister. Tonight’s winner is a woman of great achievements. She is a nurse by profession and has been a member of the Australian College of Nursing since 2012 and before that the Royal College of Nursing Australia from 1990.

“Her impact and influence upon all nurses in the Catholic Health Australia membership has been profound – she was pivotal in helping establish the CHA Nurse Unit Manager Scholarship Program, she initiated the CHA Nursing and Midwifery Symposium – which is now an annual event, and she initiated the CHA Nursing Awards.”

Kate, currently a director of Calvary Ministries, “has made a significant contribution not only across St John of God Health Care and Calvary Ministries, but for all CHA members. She exemplifies the great that occurs when we work together in our ministry, and she has inspired and mentored numerous others” said Ms Greenwood.


Leadership in Positive Ageing – Ozcare, Ozanam Villa Burleigh Heads

Ozcare Burleigh Heads has proven you are never too old to learn or to learn from new cultures. At Ozanam residents are Skyping Japan in a ground-breaking program bringing cultures together. There is a sharing of language, stories, songs and poetry. Residents are also staying young with intergenerational initiatives that bring life and love with visits to and from the local childcare, Kindy, Catholic Primary School and College.


Emerging Leader- Peta Sullivan, Mater Education/Mater Group, Brisbane

Project: Bringing Back Experience – Nurse Refresher Course

Peta developed Queensland’s first nurse refresher course to enable experienced clinicians to re-enter acute healthcare setting. (* See end of this story for further details)


Nurse of the Year – Lorna O’Brien, Director of Nursing, St John of God, Richmond

Transformed the hospital’s patient management system from paper to digital, drove the development of a Consumer Partnership Committee and strengthened a culture of collaboration. Lorna exudes compassion and enthusiasm building strong and happy teams around her.


Outreach Health Care- Mercy Palliative Care, Werribee

Launched a 24/7 in-home and overnight Palliative Care service for Melbourne City and surrounding western suburbs, a catchment of 1,060,000 people, with 600 patients currently requiring care of Mercy. The program has reduced fear, uncertainty, and anxiety for people who are dying as well as their loved ones. Every palliative care patient who calls for assistance has access to specialist care around the clock including overnight stay during the final phase of care. In the space of six weeks 89 patients were visited during the hours of 10:30pm-7am.


Excellence in Pastoral Care- Calvary Health Care Bethlehem- Anneliise Way, Vic

Project overview: Songwriting Legacy Project: Uluru We Look to You

This program provides people at the end of life with the opportunity to create a legacy song. Music therapist Anneliis Way works with patients on writing a song that can be left for family and friends, and reflect their deepest thoughts about their life. A beautiful case example is the late Andrew McCutcheon, social change advocate, Methodist pastor, local and state government member, left a song for all Australians. Desperately disappointed about the rejection of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, he wrote a song with Anneliis to reflect his deep wish for a reform, land rights, treaty and reconciliation. The week that he passed his song was played to him. In slow and slurred speech he asked if the song might ‘go viral’! At his State funeral his song was performed by Nick Seymour, Anneliis Way and Dan Kelly, and the Uluru Statement from the Heart was unfurled by Thomas Mayor, Chair of the Uluru Convention.

Uluru We follow You can be heard at:

The family said that the program ‘allowed Dad, Mum and the rest of us to focus on some positive action’. Anneliis’ work highlights the importance of creating space for people at all stages of life to have their voice heard and to attend to the whole person. Music has transcended physical limitations and enabled Andrew to spread a final message of hope for justice and healing in indigenous communities.


*NATIONAL EMERGING LEADER AWARD – Peta Sullivan, Mater Education/Mater Group, Brisbane

The architect of a Queensland first Nursing Refresher Course to “Bring Back Experience” has been recognised at the National Awards for Catholic Health Australia (CHA).

Mater’s Peta Sullivan, a nurse and Continuing Professional Development Coordinator, has designed and delivered Queensland’s only nurse refresher course bringing experienced nurses back into the acute care workforce, and has two more under construction.

The Catholic Health Australia Awards 2018 honour exemplary practice in health and aged care from a field of 80 hospitals and 440 aged care facilities, employing more than 83,300 people.

At the National Awards Tuesday evening (28 August) in Melbourne, CHA’s Chief Executive Suzanne Greenwood explained that Ms Sullivan identified a solution to two problems – the immediate deficit in experienced nursing clinicians in the acute setting, and increasing demand from nurses outside of the acute workforce eager to keep current and competent with clinical skills.

“She designed and delivered an excellent life-changing workforce solution working with the Australian College of Nursing and Mater Health to deliver Mater Education’s Nursing Refresher Course,” Ms Greenwood said.

“Peta recognised the shortage of experienced nurses in the acute settings and knew Mater would benefit from returning experienced nurses to employment. Peta also recognised education as a key enabler of employment and one of the determinants of poverty prevention.”

Using contemporary educational methodology and adult learning principles, Peta designed the program to recognise prior learning and evidenced competence, and shaped the course inclusive of 24/7 accessible online learning, with workshops with simulation and clinical placement, supported by excellent supervisors.

Commencing in November 2017 Mater’s Nursing Refresher Course had 22 clinicians through the program, of which 12 are now employed at Mater, and 25 are currently completing the course. The next round has generated 150 expressions of interest from Gympie, Brisbane, Armidale, northern NSW, Adelaide and Melbourne.

Peta has committed to replicating this transformational program within Mater Mother’s Hospital, one of Australia’s largest and most experienced maternity service providers, delivering more than 10,000 babies every year. She is well into the design of Mater’s Midwifery Refresher Program to be launched later this year.

CHA congratulates Peta on her outstanding and admirable achievement, which will make a significant contribution to healthcare in Australia.

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