Ronnie Benbow, the founder of The Carers Foundation Australia, has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) as part of the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours.
This prestigious award recognises Ronnie’s outstanding service and dedication to Australia’s unpaid family carers.
“I am humbled and deeply grateful to receive this acknowledgement, and I hope it will raise more awareness for The Carers Foundation Australia which I established to support unpaid family carers,” said Ronnie.
“We call these selfless people who are Mums, Dads, brothers or sisters, ‘Unsung Heroes’ as they sacrifice their own lives to care for their loved one with a medical or mental health condition, ageing issues, disability, accident, substance addiction or terminal cancer.”
“Some of these carers are only eight years old, so who cares for them?”
Ronnie and her husband Michael founded The Carers Foundation Australia more than 15 years ago, initially hosting retreats for unpaid family carers experiencing extreme stress and exhaustion.
Their efforts eventually evolved into the forming of a registered DGR1 Health and Education Promotion Charity.
Led by Ronnie, and supported by a board, ambassadors, professional therapists, counsellors, and volunteers who have all had caring experience, the foundation aims to provide support and assistance to carers across Australia through wellness programs, education and training, community events, and advocacy.
“Our passion is to maintain carers’ wellbeing and assist them with regular quality relief so they can cope with the unrelenting demands placed upon them,” said Ronnie.
The Carers Foundation Australia provides unique wellness programs to support the emotional, physical and mental wellbeing of unpaid carers from 12 years of age.
The aim of these programs is to provide regular quality support from compassion fatigue to prevent health crisis breakdown.
In 2017, the foundation received its first government grant to provide wellness programs to carers, and established a three-year partnership with The Coca Cola Australia Foundation to provide wellness programs for young carers.
Ronnie’s personal caring experience as a registered nurse has given her a deep understanding of the demands and stress that carers face daily.
“Currently we cannot keep up with the demand as we do not have adequate resources due to lack of funding,” said Ronnie.
Today, The Carers Foundation Australia is funded through donations, grants, and fundraising events.
The Carers Foundation Australia will soon launch its inaugural signature event, Unsung Heroes, which will see eight high-profile individuals from across south-east Queensland fundraise for several months, and then compete in a sing-off finale on Saturday, 7 October, 2023 at Fortitude Music Hall to claim the ultimate prize – The Unsung Hero Award.
The foundation launched the Unsung Heroes campaign at a gala in October last year attended by Young Carer Patrons, Lisa and Jess Origliasso of The Veronicas and Patron, the Lady Mayoress of Brisbane, Nina Schrinner.
“Our fundraising goal is to purchase a purpose-built facility to accommodate, educate and rejuvenate carers before they face health crisis breakdowns,” said Ronnie.
“This would be available 24/7 and the only centre specifically for carers in Australia.”
The King’s Birthday Honours are appointments by some of the 16 Commonwealth realms of King Charles III to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by citizens of those countries.
The Birthday Honours are awarded as part of the King’s Official Birthday celebrations during the month of June.
The Order of Australia recognises Australians who have demonstrated outstanding service or exceptional achievement.
There are four levels of award: Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), Member of the Order of Australia (AM), and Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
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