Jan 28, 2022

Ambulance volunteer ‘Aunty Val’ recognised as Senior Australian of the Year 2022

Aunty Val Senior Aus of the Year

Ms Dempsey began working with St John Ambulance as a cadet volunteer while she was still in primary school, and has dedicated her life to the service. 

One of the Australian Capital Territory’s longest-serving volunteers, she dedicates more hours to volunteering than any other person in the state.

In 2020, Val faced one of the biggest challenges of her volunteering career.

First came the ‘Black Summer’ bushfires – while fires raged for weeks, Ms Dempsey led 40 fellow volunteers to support fire-affected communities.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, when Ms Dempsey continued to display her unwavering commitment to the cause.

Many members of the St John Ambulance team suffered serious bouts of low morale, but Ms Dempsey rose to the occasion. 

She personally contacted every volunteer to check on their welfare, mental health and morale.

It’s hardly surprising she has been granted the affectionate moniker ‘Aunty Val’.

At the awards ceremony, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck congratulated Ms Dempsey.

“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.

“There is no doubt her tireless professionalism and care has been a comfort to thousands of people during their most vulnerable moments.

“Ms Dempsey is proof age is no barrier when it comes to passion, hard work and determination.

“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.”

The Senior Australian of the Year 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:

  • Victoria: Ms Gaye Hamilton is Deputy Chancellor of Victoria University and champion of social justice.
  • Tasmania: Mr Bruce French AO is an agricultural scientist and founder of Food Plants International.
  • South Australia: 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.
  • Western Australia: Ms Janice Standen is president of Grandparents Rearing Grandchildren WA and has worked tirelessly to advocate for grandparent carers.
  • Northern Territory: Ms Robyne Burridge OAM, disability services advocate and founder of Focus-A-Bility.
  • Queensland: 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.
  • New South Wales: Ms Abla Kadous, 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.

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