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Foundation Director Recognised for Groundbreaking Work in Voluntary Assisted Dying

Updated: Nov 27, 2023


Foundation Director, and Chair of the Board's Clinical Governance Committee, has recently been recognised alongside a team of clinicians and volunteers for their ground-breaking work in establishing safe and dignified Voluntary Assisted Dying in South Australia.


Michele was a member of the inaugural Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Taskforce and is now a member of the Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) Review Board in South Australia.


The efforts of the team were recently recognised with the Premier's Award for Excellence in Healthcare at the SA Health Awards.


Michele said: "This accolade is a testament to the unwavering commitment and exceptional work of our VAD team and clinicians. Their dedication to implementing and monitoring VAD has been instrumental in safeguarding and enhancing patient care.


"I am thrilled to share that our dedicated efforts have been recognised [with this award]" said Ms Smith OAM.


Michele extended her congratulations to everyone involved in the realisation of this significant achievement and acknowledged how this work is "truly making a difference".


Foundation CEO Mark Burdack said: "The Healthy Communities Foundation Australia Ltd is very proud to have Michele as one of its directors and the Chair of the Board’s Clinical Governance Committee.


"Her dedication and expertise are illustrated in this ground-breaking work to ensure we can all live a dignified life.


"The goal of the Foundation is to ensure that everyone can enjoy the highest quality of heslth care at every stage of the life course, from birth to death.


"In aged care we are passionately focussed on fixing poor access to primary health care to ensure that elderly Australians can enjoy the highest quality of life for the longest time possible.


"In palliative care our focus is on ensuring patients and carers are empowered and in control when faced with terminal illness or unalterable decline in organ function.


"Voluntary Assisted Dying is an important conponeht of proving care across the life-course. It provides that small number of people who have made a conscious and informed decision the opportunity to end their life with dignity when faced with incurable illness.


"The compassion and commitment of all our board directors is reflected in the Foundation's work partnering with some of Australia's leading Residential Aged Care (RACF) providers to design and deliver comprehensive health care solutions that significantly improve the integration of primary health care and residential aged care in Australia.


"Too many Australians die today from entirely preventable conditions. This is wrong in such a wealthy country, whether you are a newborn baby or a Prime Minister.


"As noted by the Royal Commission into Aged Care in Australia, there is an urgent need to improve the integration of primary health care and residential aged care in Australia to ensure older Australians can live long and dignified lives in the confidence that their health care needs are being properly addressed across their life-course.


"Michele's significant expertise in rural and remote health, and in the care of elderly Australians, has been critical to ensuring that our all our programs, from life extending primary health care to ensuring dignity when it comes time for our lives to end, are people focussed, integrated, sustainable and contributing to the dignity of vulnerable elderly people in rural and remote Australia.


"I have a deepest respect and appreciation for the thoughtfulness and care required of experts in this field" said Mr Burdack


Michele Smith was made an Officer of the Order of Australia Medal in the 2023 King's Birthday Honours, and is leading the clinical governance oversight of the Foundation's innovative residential aged care program as Chair of the Foundation's Clinical Govenance Committee.

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