St John Ambulance volunteer Valmai Dempsey is tonight recognised as the Senior Australian of the Year 2022.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, has congratulated Ms Dempsey, noting a lifetime dedicated to the care of others.
“Ms Dempsey’s extraordinary commitment to the care of others has been showcased through her extraordinary service as a St John Ambulance volunteer,” Minister Colbeck said.
“Through some of the toughest of circumstances, Ms Dempsey’s passion and dedication to the job has always shined bright.
“There is no doubt her tireless professionalism and care has been a comfort to thousands of people during their most vulnerable moments.”
Starting as a cadet volunteer while still in primary school, for more than 50 years Ms Dempsey has dedicated her life to the cause.
She’s one of the Australian Capital Territory’s longest-serving volunteers and, year after year, she still dedicates more hours than any other volunteer.
In 2020, Ms Dempsey faced her biggest challenge yet as a St John Ambulance volunteer – first with the ‘Black Summer’ bushfires, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response, she led 40 fellow volunteers as they supported fire-affected communities during the emergency that stretched over many weeks.
Then when the pandemic hit, Ms Dempsey displayed unwavering commitment to the St John team, despite heavy impacts on team morale.
Without hesitation, she personally contacted every volunteer to check on their mental health and morale.
“Ms Dempsey is proof age is no barrier when it comes to passion, hard work and determination,” Minister Colbeck said.
“Her energy and commitment is an inspiration to us all to stay active and engaged with our communities, as long as we feel willing and able.”
Ms Dempsey was the ACT Senior Australian of the Year.
Minister Colbeck said each of the state and territory winners had also made unique contributions to our nation.
“Their achievements and their areas of focus are all different, but all impressive,” he said.
The Australian Government has sponsored the Senior Australian of the Year award for more than 20 years, to recognise and showcase the exceptional work done by older Australians.
The award is given to an Australian over 65 years of age who has dedicated his or her life to a worthy cause.
The state and territory Senior Australians of the Year 2022 are
- VIC: Ms Gaye Hamilton is Deputy Chancellor of Victoria University and champion of social justice
- TAS: Mr Bruce French AO is an agricultural scientist and founder of Food Plants International
- SA: Mr Mark Le Messurier is an educator, counsellor and author who has dedicated his life to improving the wellbeing and life outcomes of young people
- WA: Ms Janice Standen is president of Grandparents Rearing Grandchildren WA and has worked tirelessly to advocate for grandparent carers
- NT: Ms Robyne Burridge OAM, disability services advocate and founder of Focus-A-Bility
- QLD: Dr Colin Dillon AM APM was Australia’s first indigenous police officer and was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the indigenous community
- NSW: Ms Abla Kadous is president of the Islamic Women’s Welfare Association, helped set up the first welfare service for Muslim women in Australia and has been volunteering for more than 35 years.
More information about the Senior Australian of the Year and the finalists is available here.