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Karen Kemp OAM

Saturday, 13th June, 2020

Karen Kemp OAM with Elle, an 11-year-old dog she adopted in 2018. PICTURE: Emily McInerney Karen Kemp OAM with Elle, an 11-year-old dog she adopted in 2018. PICTURE: Emily McInerney

By Emily McInerney

Broken Hill’s Karen Kemp was awarded with an Order of Australia Medal during the Queen’s Birthday Honours last weekend.

Mrs Kemp was recognised for her service to nursing and the community.

She has worked with Southern Cross Care since 2019, but had previously worked with the Far West Local Health District for more than 30 years. 

Along with a distinguished working career, Mrs Kemp has spent many of those years volunteering for different initiatives.

She is a volunteer with the Broken Hill Hospital Kiosk Auxiliary, she spent four years volunteering with the Patient Family Support Group all while working as a Clinical Nurse Consultant for Infection Control from 2011 - 2019.

Previous to that she was a nurse manager from 2000 - 2011.

Outside of the health service, Mrs Kemp is the fundraising co-ordinator for the Third Broken Hill Sea Scouts and has spent 24 years as a volunteer with the American Field Service.

She has hosted more than 20 exchange students and worked as the Regional Sending Co-ordinator, chairperson, treasurer and group hosting and sending co-ordinator.

Her list of awards include Australia Day Citizenship Award in 2017, Hidden Treasurers Honour Roll 2016, Volunteer of the Year Award, NSW Health, 2015, New South Wales Premier’s Volunteer Recognition Award, 2015 and South Australian Premier’s Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding Volunteer Service, 2006.

Mrs Kemp said she was emailed in March saying she was up for consideration for an award.

“I was notified two weeks ago, but I wasn’t allowed to say anything,” she said.

“You hear of Australia Day honours but I didn’t think much of it.

“It wasn’t until it was up on Facebook and people I didn’t know were congratulating me that I thought ‘this is big’.”

Mrs Kemp said there might be an awards ceremony in September or October depending on the COVID situation.

“I couldn’t celebrate myself, because my daughter and granddaughter are unwell; which is a shame.

“But my work colleagues have been really great.”

Mrs Kemp said she didn’t volunteer for the accolades.

“This award is for all volunteers, we don’t do it for the accolades, but because we are helping somebody or an organisation.

“If we don’t do it, it might not exist.”

She said the satisfaction of volunteering was the biggest standout.

“The satisfaction that an organisation can achieve something is worth it.

“With the AFS, being able to host exchange students in Australia and Broken Hill was worth it.

“The patient family support group gave me a lot of satisfaction. 

“When you know that team is successful because of volunteers; it’s really great.”

Mrs Kemp said she was grateful to her employers for allowing her to work and volunteer.

“I’m so grateful to the Far West Local Health District for the opportunities they have given me. 

“I worked there for 30-odd years, and they made it so I could volunteer as well.

“They gave me lots of opportunities to further my career and go in the direction I went.

“It’s the same with Southern Cross Care, I’m back doing infection control which I really enjoy. In times like this it is really important.”

In the Far West district, Mona Vagg of Ivanhoe was also awarded an OAM for her service to the community of Ivanhoe. 

Mrs Vagg has served in a variety of roles with a range of community organisations for over 60 years.

These include the Ivanhoe Rural Bush Fire Brigade, Irymple Bush Fire Brigade, Isolated Children’s Parents Association, Disadvantaged Country Area Program, Ivanhoe Hospital Auxiliary, Country Women’s Association and the Ivanhoe Rugby League Club.

Mrs Kemp and Mrs Vagg joined a list of 710 recipients for the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List.

“In this list we see all the positives that are in our community - we see the great ideas, we see the hard-work, we see the love and compassion for fellow human beings - it’s a microcosm of Australia,” the Governor-General David Hurley said.

“This list recognises a group of outstanding Australians who have made a contribution to their community, to Australia globally or domestically. Their efforts have been noted by their peers, they’ve been nominated and assessed independently as worthy of recognition.”

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