Western Sydney’s health heroes shine on Australia Day

Di O'Halloran
Di O’Halloran has received an AO, one of the nation’s highest honours.

Western Sydney Local Health District board member Di O’Halloran has been awarded the Order of Australia (AO) in the Australia Day 2018 honours list.

An AO is one of the nation’s highest honours.

Di was recognised for her distinguished service to medicine in the field of general practice through policy development and health system reform.

Di has held senior roles in some of the biggest health organisations in Australia, including WentWest, NSW Health, the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

WSLHD Board deputy chair Professor Jeremy Chapman AC congratulated Di on being acknowledged by the Australian community.

“We all know the value Di O’Halloran brings through her steadfast commitment to primary health care provision, not only in western Sydney but also across the country,” Prof Chapman said.

“It is a sustained lifelong work that has been recognised and I, along with the Western Sydney Local Health District Board applaud that effort, knowing the results Di has achieved.”

Three others associated with Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) have also been named in the Australia Day 2018 honours list.

Westmead Hospital’s head of ophthalmology and one of the world’s most prolific researchers Professor Paul Mitchell AM also received an AO as did one of the founding heads of Westmead Hospital’s Diabetes and Endocrinology department Professor Creswell Eastman AM for his distinguished service to medicine and contribution to international public health projects and Dr Helen Mary Somerville from Westmead Hospital, for her distinguished service to medicine, particularly developmental pediatrics.

Robert Lagaida received a Public Service Medal for his services to health in NSW financial management.

Prof Mitchell has co-authored more than 1,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers in medicine and ophthalmology.

He was recognised for his distinguished service as a clinician, particularly in the management of age-related macular degeneration through research into public health.

Prof Chapman said Prof Mitchell established the Blue Mountains Eye Study more than 20 years ago.

“Prof Mitchell’s study of 20,000 people living in Katoomba and surrounding areas resulted in ground-breaking research not only on population eye disease, but also on the evolution of many other chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and chronic failure,” Prof Chapman said.

Prof Eastman transformed the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research (ICPMR) into a pathology service that delivered results across NSW. He is now retired but has maintained his involvement as an emeritus professor.

Robert Lagaida was general manager of Westmead Hospital for a year before moving on to be responsible for the development of HealthShare, which is now the largest public sector shared services organisation in Australia, providing various services to health facilities such as human resources support, financial services, food, linen and transport.

Professor Chapman said Robert was a superb manager.

“Robert was always seeking the advice he needed on clinical issues and he managed Westmead Hospital at an important time. He was an important bridge to our future,” Prof Chapman said.

The full list of Australia Day recipients can be found here: https://www.gg.gov.au/australia-day-2018-honours-list