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Bunbury Social Worker Wins State’s Top Award

Community, In the Media / Off / June 10, 2014

Pippa Blackburn and Jan Stewart

Pippa Blackburn and Jan Stewart

As seen in South West Times, 12 June 2014.

10 June 2014 – Local Bunbury resident from the WA Country Health Service Pippa Blackburn has been named as this year’s WA Social Worker of the Year at the statewide Award ceremony held last night at Curtin University.

Accepting the prestigious Award to a room of heartfelt applause from her peers, Pippa said she felt overwhelmed and honoured to be recognised by the industry.

“I’m driven by hope and inspired by my sister and my daughter, two important people that I have lost,” said Pippa. “Receiving this Award tonight is particularly poignant for me as it comes on the anniversary of my daughters death. This Award is as much an honour for me as it is dedicated to them and to those who have influenced and inspired me.”

Pippa won the Award after also winning the Edith Cowan University Rural and Remote Practitioner Award recognising her contribution to social work in rural communities in particular her dedication to social work in palliative care.

Nominated by colleague Kris Dwyer, Pippa’s nomination was a tribute to the outstanding positive difference she has made in the Bunbury, Busselton and rural palliative care communities.

Kris says Pippa is a credit to the social work profession in WA, constantly “thinking outside the box” in her approach to rural and remote services to effect positive change and build the resilience of the rural communities within her region.

“Pippa upholds that people should have equal access to services and supports irrespective of where they live, where their care is deliveres, what their diagnosis or their cultural or religious background,” said Kris. “She actively strives to effect change within systems that don’t adequately meet clients’ needs.”

Pippa overcomes challenges as a rural and remote practitioner not only in the remote nature of her work, but also in the nature of palliative care in small communities where professional boundaries can often become blurred.

“It can be hard for people to grieve in private as the whole community grieves too, but together you inspire hope in each other and share the grief together” said Pippa. “Working in palliative care can be perceived as challenging or depressing but it is an honour and a privilege to be let into peoples lives.”

“When you’re working with people in this capacity you have to get it right the first time, and when you can make a small amount of difference it makes everything worth it.”

In addition to her work as a Senior Social Worker at WA Country Health Services and for several palliative care interest groups Pippa is also studying in a remote capacity towards her PhD at Griffith University in Queensland.

Pippa said she was honoured to win the award and to be nominated alongside fellow Bunbury social worker Carinna Bradbury in the Rural and Remote Practitioner category.

Attended by a diverse mix of industry professionals, government officials, Award partners, sponsors, family and friends the annual Awards celebrate excellence in Social Work and acknowledge the dedication of the social work industry to making a real difference to the lives of Western Australians.

Award Patron, CEO of Lotterywest and qualified social worker Jan Stewart described the night as inspirational and was particularly impressed by the professionalism of the event and by the recognition the Award night brings to social workers.

“It gives me a huge sense of pride in our profession,“ she said. “This event values the depth and breadth of the contribution social workers make not only in direct service to their clients but also in their workplaces and in the community.”

The Awards ceremony has been held annually since 2009 supported by founding partners Curtin University, the University of Western Australia and the Australian Association of Social Workers.


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