Blacktown Hospital legend named among Queen’s Birthday honours

Emeritus Professor Peter Zelas (second from right) at the opening of the Peter Zelas Library at the Western Sydney University Clinical School library, Blacktown Hospital.

The ‘cornerstone of Blacktown Hospital’ has been named a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday honours.

Emeritus Professor Peter Zelas was among seven distinguished people linked to Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) and the Westmead Health Precinct, and 933 people around the country, to receive pre-eminent recognition for achievements and service to Australia today.

The general (or civil) division of the Order of Australia is comprised of four levels, in ascending significance: Medal of the Order (OAM), Member of the Order (AM), Officer of the Order (AO) and Companion of the Order (AC).

Emeritus Prof Zelas was previously awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia, and in 2018 had the Western Sydney University Clinical School library at Blacktown Hospital named in his honour upon retirement.

Northmead resident Judith Louise Meppem was also recognised for her services to nursing administration and community health.

Judith is a former chief nurse and midwife in NSW and former director of nursing and midwifery at Westmead Hospital.

Emeritus Prof Zelas is known for his humanitarian medical missions in many overseas countries.

WSLHD chief executive Graeme Loy congratulated the recipients for the deserved recognition of their significant contributions to the nation.

“We are extremely fortunate to have such brilliant and hard-working people advancing health care and health education here in Western Sydney,” Graeme said.

“I’d like to thank Emeritus Professor Peter Zelas for his invaluable contributions to Blacktown Hospital. He set the standard for patient care and the hospital wouldn’t be what it is today without his tireless advocacy.

“Congratulations to all the recipients and thank you for what you do to improve our great society.”

Auburn Clinical School head A/Prof Hadia Haikal-Mukhtar (centre) was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.

The recipients are as follows.

Companion (AC) in the General Division

Belinda Hutchinson, for eminent service to business, to tertiary education and scientific research, and through philanthropic endeavours to address social disadvantage. Ms Hutchinson is the 18th Chancellor of the University of Sydney, the partner university of Westmead Hospital since the teaching hospital’s opening in 1978.

Officer (AO) in the General Division

Emeritus Professor Kim Oates, for distinguished service to paediatric medicine, as an advocate for child health and welfare, to medical education, and to professional societies. Emeritus Prof Oates is a clinical consultant and the head of undergraduate education at the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission.

Ms Judith Louise Meppem, from Northmead, was awarded for her significant service to nursing administration and community health. Ms Meppem was the inaugural NSW Chief Nursing Officer for 12 years until 2002 and a former director of nursing and midwifery at Westmead Hospital. She has frontline experience as a nurse, midwife, nurse unit manager, assistant director of nursing, and deputy director of nursing.

Member (AM) in the General Division

Dr John Curotta, for significant service to medicine as an ear, nose and throat surgeon, and to Indigenous health. Dr Curotta was the director of the department of ear, nose and throat surgery at The Sydney Children’s Hospital at Westmead until his retirement.

Emeritus Professor Peter Zelas, for significant service to medicine, to health administration, and to humanitarian medical initiatives. Emeritus Prof Zelas was instrumental in establishing the Clinical School at Blacktown Hospital, and contributed significantly to advancements in health care and medical education in Western Sydney.

Professor Stephen Garton, for significant service to tertiary education administration, and to history. Prof Garton is a professor of history and the senior deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney.

Medal (OAM) in the General Division

Associate Professor Hadia Haikal-Mukhtar, for service to medicine and to the Lebanese community. A/Prof Haikal-Mukhtar is head of the Auburn Clinical School, a partnership between Auburn Hospital and the University of Notre Dame Australia.

Public Service Medal

Natalie Camilleri, for outstanding service to the NSW Government. Ms Camilleri is the executive director of City Planning Infrastructure for the Greater Sydney Commission, which seeks to transform Sydney into a metropolis of three cities with Parramatta the hub of the ‘central river city’.