Frontier Services’ Rhonda Sawtell from the Ngamang Bawoona aged care hostel in Derby has been named the national Employee of the Year at the Hesta & ACSA Aged Care Awards.
After winning the state award in June, Rhonda was awarded the national title for her dedication to supporting and caring for elderly members of the remote Kimberley community.
Overwhelmed by the win, Rhonda said: “I feel very honoured. It really is a shock to me because I do not look at what I do as a job, I do it because I love it.”
The awards were held in conjunction with the Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) National Conference from 2-5 September on the Gold Coast and recognise those who have made an outstanding contribution to the aged care services industry. Rhonda was recognised for her skills and training in cultural awareness, dementia, dietary requirements and renal therapy as well as her dedication to providing quality care for the residents.
Ngamang Bawoona has 17 residents, aged from 44 to 93 years of age, who come from the surroundingKimberley communities such as Balgo, Beagle Bay, Yungngora and Looma. In some cases their family may live 500km away.
Rhonda has learnt the basic Aboriginal dialect related to providing care. She also encourages family members to bring in bush tucker for the residents which she then prepares for them.
Her role as Support Worker includes cooking, cleaning and assisting the residents with their daily living.
Ngamang Bawoona Team Leader Lynette Lock said the residents and staff were very proud of Rhonda.
“Rhonda doesn’t expect anything for what she does – it is just part of who she is. She is one of those bubbly people – everyone feels good when she is around. She is more individually focused on the residents. She will buy clothing for them or if they request something different on the menu, Rhonda will get it.”
Commending the winners, ACSA CEO, Adj Prof John G Kelly AM said: “The 2012 award winners embody the remarkable ingenuity and dedication of the people and organisations that define aged care in Australia. Exemplary achievements and innovation result when people strive and succeed in delivering care and support above and beyond the call of duty.”
This is the second year in a row a Frontier Services staff member has won this award. Stephanie Charlesworth from the NT Dementia Behaviour Advisory Service was Employee of the Year in 2011.
Above: Rhonda’s surprise is evident as she accepts her Employee of the Year award