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Monday, 14 March 2005

Prestigious award recognises innovation in care for elderly Territorians

Darwin resident Sharon Davis has been awarded the prestigious Louis Ariotti Award for her role in developing aged care services in the Territory and the Kimberley.

The award was presented at the 8th National Rural Health Conference held in Alice Springs over the last 4 days. It recognises innovation and excellence in rural and remote health in areas such as research, policy, leadership and service development.

Mrs Davis is the Northern Regional Manager of UCA Frontier Services – the organisation that was founded as The Australian Inland Mission in 1912 by another legend in innovative care for Outback communities, Rev John Flynn (“Flynn of the Inland” – who appears on the $20 note).

“We have a great example to follow in our founder, John Flynn”, said Mrs Davis. “He was not one to take no for an answer when it came to the health and welfare of people in the bush. I hope I have been able to demonstrate some small measure of his passion in developing care services for the elderly in the Territory.”

Mrs Davis was nominated by the National Director of Frontier Services, Rosemary Young. “For over a decade, Sharon has made an outstanding contribution to the development of services for the frail and aged and to training those who provide that care in the remotest regions of the continent,” said Mrs Young.

“Sharon joined Frontier Services in 1993 at a time when there were very few services, residential or otherwise, for older Territorians. She became the strongest and most passionate advocate for a variety of aged care services to meet the needs she identified, particularly for older indigenous people.”

“She has been instrumental in the development of dementia services and has taken a lead in ensuring accreditation standards are flexible enough to accommodate culturally appropriate care and remote service provision.”

“Sharon has developed partnerships with indigenous communities, developed training programs that can be delivered to remote communities and developed innovative programs that allow elderly people to remain at home even in very remote communities. She has encouraged and enthused our staff to stretch the system to its limits to ensure provision of quality care no matter where it is to be delivered.”

“I believe Sharon Davis has been instrumental in changing the face of aged care in the Northern Territory,” said Mrs Young. “Ten years ago, services for the elderly were minimal indeed in the Top End and the Centre. Today, a full range of care services can be accessed in most regions in the Territory, and that is due in no small part to the tenacity of Sharon Davis who constantly insists on ‘thinking outside the square’ when it comes to ensuring quality services for frail and aged in Northern Australia.”

Sharon Davis will take long service leave this year and plans to spend the time in Chenai, India, where she will provide advice on the development of aged care services in a very different, yet equally challenging environment.

“I hope they are ready!” said Mrs Young.