OLIVE Worboys’ lifetime of service to the community has been recognised in the Australia Day Honours List with the awarding of a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) to the long-time Foster resident.
This year marks the 50th year of service Mrs Dorothea Olive Worboys – or ‘Olive’ as she prefers to be known – has given to the Red Cross. A Red Cross member since 1965, she was Foundation Member of the Foster-Alberton Unit from 1977 to 1991, Regional Deputy Liaison Officer between Australian Red Cross and the Victorian State Emergency Service in 1977, and chair of the Foster Branch of the Red Cross from 1977 to 1987. One of her greatest achievements has been the establishment of a community mini-bus service for the Foster district.
The mini-bus was handed over to Foster Red Cross in 1984, with shire president Cr Jack Symmons commenting, “South Gippsland is the first country shire to receive such a service and it is a tribute to the efforts of the Red Cross members that it has been provided.”
Olive was also a member of the Foster Ambulance Auxiliary from the 1960s to 2011, a supervisor at Banksia Lodge aged care facility from 1986 to 1989 and a volunteer from 1990 to 2010, a volunteer with the Corner Inlet Community Care Association, and was made a Life Governor of South Gippsland Hospital after volunteering there for many years, including training more than 1000 people in first aid. In 1999 she was awarded Corner Inlet Citizen on the Year.
Olive, who was born in Ballarat and then in lived in Pakenham before moving to Foster 60 or so years ago, has always taken an active part in community life. She was Brownie Leader of the Pakenham Brownies from 1956-59, facilitated the movement of a Guide Hall from Yanakie to Foster in 1967, Assistant Cub Leader at Foster 1962-1970 and District Commissioner at Foster for Girl Guides Victoria from 1972 to 1982.
Amazingly, she has managed to serve the community at the same time as coping with the demands of a busy household. She is the much loved mother of eight children, grandmother to 17 and great-grandmother to nine. The award nomination was prepared by her proud family and endorsed by local referees.
“We are very proud of Mum’s tireless work for the community and the Order of Australia recognition is greatly appreciated by the family,” said Deirdre Morgan, Olive’s eldest daughter. “We find it hard to believe that in 2015, at the age of 89, she is still a member of Foster Red Cross and will achieve 50 years of service this year!” Deirdre added: “She has been just amazing. She was the Foster Red Cross first aid instructor; taught first aid to more than 1000 locals including many cubs and brownies; undertook volunteer work at South Gippsland Hospital and helped to establish the Red Cross Blood Bank at the Foster hospital. As if that wasn’t enough, she also undertook nursing work in private homes before the days of District Nurses and undertook regular volunteer support-escort work with the Foster Ambulance on their five-hour round trips to Melbourne.”
“Mum was always willing to have a go….to make things better,” chipped in Graeme Worboys, one of Olive’s five sons. “I remember when she was Red Cross Chair in the 1980s she saw the real need for a community bus in Foster. So against all odds she did something about it – and was successful. She wrote a clear and compelling submission to the Victorian Red Cross Melbourne executive about why Foster needed a bus. The response was pretty positive from the very top of Victoria’s Red Cross and they congratulated Mum on the best submission they had ever received from a unit. It was a David and Goliath moment, but Foster Red Cross was indeed awarded a community bus.”
The bus operating records showed that the Red Cross community bus was a very real success. At 100,000 km the original bus was replaced and by 1996 it and a second bus had completed 2337 trips, carried 17,018 passengers and travelled 215,125 kilometres. Use of the buses had seen the elderly and disadvantaged attending geriatric occupational therapy sessions at South Gippsland Hospital Day Care; people attending Blood Bank monthly donor sessions at the Woorayl Hospital in Leongatha; people being transported for vital specialist medical treatment in Melbourne; and outings for otherwise lodge-bound elderly residents of Foster’s Banksia Lodge and Toora Nursing Home.
“Nan is truly amazing,” said proud granddaughter Deb Morgan. “We grew up with stories of how she and her Red Cross mates would help at emergencies by feeding and supporting the volunteers. This included cooking up a big pot of delicious stew for fire fighters or search and rescuers working down the Prom. But Nan was pretty quiet about her adventures. We’ve only heard from other members of the family the stories of how she would drive a rough and ready 1950s Land Rover to the remote 5 Mile at Wilsons Promontory along its otherwise closed fire trails delivering Red Cross meals and providing some basic first aid.”
It is true that Olive shuns the limelight. She is definitely a behind-the-scenes person. She said that she was surprised and honoured to receive the OAM and insisted recognition should go to all the volunteers she has worked with. “The drivers are very special people, as are all the volunteers I have worked with – the Red Cross committee members and all the others,” she said, adding her thanks to everyone who contributed to the award nomination process.
Olive is expected to be presented with her OAM at a ceremony at Government House in April or May. This week the celebrations revolved around her family, many of whom were delighted to attend a very special Australia Day celebratory party at Olive’s home in Foster. Olive Worboys OAM was then invited to cut the cake at the Corner Inlet Australia Day celebrations in Foster.