The inaugural “Catholic Health Australia Sr Maria Cunningham Lifetime Contribution Award” has been awarded to Sr Maria Cunningham RSC OAM.
The new award has been created by Catholic Health Australia (CHA) to recognise those who over the course of their life have given extraordinary service to the Catholic Church’s health and aged care ministry.
CHA CEO Martin Laverty said “So many have dedicated their lives to the work of the Church in health and aged care. A few visionaries, like Sr Maria Cunningham, have made an extraordinary contribution. The CHA Board wanted to honour her contribution.”
Sr Maria, a Sister of Charity, commenced work as a nurse at St Vincent’s Darlinghurst in 1966. Later in her working life she went on to chair the Sisters of Charity Health Services.
Sr Maria was instrumental in establishing CHA, and was a promoter of “Integration 2000” which encouraged Catholic hospitals and aged care services to form new partnerships.
In other roles, Sr Maria served on the Board of the National Health Insurance Commission, and was the Chief Executive of the Sydney Region Sisters of Charity hospitals in 1996. She was a teacher and mentor to many young doctors and nurses who worked in Catholic hospitals.
“Maria is now living in retirement in Melbourne. We wanted to ensure she and others knew that the contribution she has made during her working life to Catholic Health had not been forgotten,” Mr Laverty said.
“The CHA Board intends to now give the “Catholic Health Australia Sr Maria Cunningham Lifetime Contribution Award” to a new recipient each year. It will be awarded to those who’ve dedicated their life to Catholic health.”
Mr Laverty said nominations for the other CHA awards to be presented at the CHA annual conference in August are now open. For details, visit www.cha.org.au