Every year when the Queen’s Birthday Honours list comes out, eyebrows are raised at some of the choices.
But nobody in Eurobodalla or beyond would disagree that long serving mental health worker and advocate Tina Philip was a thoroughly deserving choice for the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
Aside from the choice of sporting stars, actors and celebrities, there are also often questions about why someone should receive an award for “just doing their job”.
Often the jobs in question carry with them a high pay packet and a measure of prestige that should be their own reward.
However, in this case, there has been nothing ordinary about the extraordinary career of Tina Philip, who has embodied the cliche of “above and beyond”.
In fact, she told the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner that she felt the purpose of mental health workers was to “do ourselves out of a job”.
Ms Philip, of Lilli Pilli, was a clinical nurse consultant for the Batemans Bay Community Mental Health Service from 1984 to 2015.
Over this three decades of service, one can only wonder at how many lives she has saved, and how many people she has helped to step onto the road to recovery.
In her position, she would have influenced so many of her colleagues and others within the health service to also be able to go on and help others.
To serve for so long, and so effectively, in this tough industry has to be an achievement in itself. But far from being burnt out, Ms Philip continues to work with and assist people in the Far South Coast community.
We have come a long way in regard to the way we talk about mental health.
The 2010 naming of mental health care reformer Patrick McGorry as Australian of the Year showed we were ready to bring this topic out of the shadows.
We now all acknowledge that we are facing an epidemic of mental health problems, that can only be confronted by working together.
In smaller communities like ours, unsung heroes like Tina Philip are working every day with some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
So you can keep your celebrities and your sportspeople – how wonderful to see this very traditional award go to someone who has effected so much positive change in our community.
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