Ruby Stanley and Francis Hayes both received the prestigious Friends of the Alliance Unsung Hero Award at the 13th National Rural Health Conference. Their tireless contribution to the health and wellbeing of the Katherine community was recognised and celebrated by more than 900 delegates at the official Conference dinner.
Ruby and Francis were both nominated as Unsung Heroes by Aryati Yashandhana from the Brien Holden Vision Institute, who has seen their dedication first-hand and felt that their efforts should be recognised.
“Working alongside Ruby on improving access to eye care for Aboriginal people allowed me to understand the tireless efforts and contributions she has made to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Ruby also works to improve the quality of Indigenous aged care, has set up aged care hostels in several communities in the Top End and helps deliver food education programs to improve nutrition and wellbeing among the elderly”, Aryati said.
When nominating Francis, Aryati said: “Francis is passionate about Aboriginal men’s health and helps create linkages between the clinic and the community that enhance access to health care for Aboriginal men. He has a special focus on the very vulnerable members of society and works with the clinic staff to introduce programs that help these people feel safe and comfortable accessing health care”.
Ruby and Francis are also members of the Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service and sit on the Board of the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency. Francis volunteers weekly at the StrongBala men’s clinic in Katherine and runs cultural awareness programs to help non-Indigenous people understand the world from an Indigenous perspective. Ruby was nominated by the Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service to work with the Brien Holden Vision Institute because of her knowledge and commitment to improving the lives of Aboriginal people in her community.
“Typically there is only one winner of the Unsung Hero award but this year the Friends Selection Committee found it impossible to decide between Ruby and Francis. Their work, over such a long time, to improve Indigenous health and strengthen Indigenous cultural awareness was a real stand out”, said Gordon Gregory, CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA).
“Ruby and Francis are at the Conference and it was a real joy to see their surprise and humility in being honoured by the rural and remote health community as Unsung Heroes. Although we give this award to individuals at each National Rural Health Conference, every nominee typifies the commitment of all those who work tirelessly for the better health and wellbeing of people in rural and remote Australia.”
Friends of the Alliance is a membership body that supports the NRHA and the work it does. It is a network of people and organisations working to improve health and wellbeing in rural and remote Australia. Its aim is to support that work and facilitate communication between those interested in health issues in rural and remote Australia.
Damien Hickman – Communications: 0414 380 892
Tim Kelly – Chairperson: 0438 011 383
Leanne Coleman – Conference Manager: 0407 991 854