Unsung Hero Award a family affair

  • Mandy Pusmucans, her husband John Lawrence, and their daughter, Pantjiti Lawrence, from Maffra in Victoria

Panjiti Lawrence, John Lawrence and Mandy Pusmucans with Des Murray Scholarship winners Harper Dalton-Earls and Shanae Eikelboom, and Friends Chair Robyn Williams.

A family rather than an individual has received the prestigious Unsung Hero Award for 2017 at the 14th National Rural Health Conference in Cairns.

The Chair of Friends of the Alliance, Robyn Williams, presented Mandy Pusmucans, her husband John Lawrence, and their daughter, Pantjiti Lawrence, from Maffra in Victoria with the Award for their long-term dedication and commitment to the promotion of better health and wellbeing in rural and remote communities.

“The Award is a small way in which Friends can recognise a tiny proportion of those who make a major contribution to people's quality of life in Australia's rural and remote communities,” Robyn said.

No ordinary family in the world of rural and remote health, both Mandy and John have spent their entire working lives as clinicians and service managers in the sector. Both served with the Nganampa Health Council at Umuwa in the APY Lands of South Australia, in Alice Springs, and in East and Central Gippsland, Victoria.

“In addition, Mandy and John have worked tirelessly for social justice and equity of access for rural and remote communities, particularly for Aboriginal Australians,” commented Robyn.

“They have also made major contributions to the National Rural Health Alliance, as members of its Council and its Board.”

“Surely though, the best and greatest contribution they have jointly made has been to raise and nurture their fabulous daughter, Pantjiti and instil in her a similar commitment to rural health.”

Pantjiti is the youngest person to have attended every National Rural Health Conference, the first in Canberra in 2001 while still a baby. Since then she has been a regular contributor to the biennial Conference.

"It’s so pleasing that this year our Unsung Heroes are a family who have shown how much good can be done in the community by people willing to give, to care and to share - and to adhere to principles of fairness, inclusion and compassion," said Robyn.

"The world is a better place for the existence of all such families.”

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