NSW Health Manager Leadership Awards 2021

The 2021 ACHSM NSW Health Manager Leadership Awards focused on recognising outstanding Health Management leadership in the Aged Care sector.

This year in particular, Health Managers in Aged Care have been required to draw on their leadership skills and attributes, demonstrating daily their resilience, perseverance and a strong commitment to teamwork when leading through uncertainty.

Through our conversations with those working in the sector, the enormous amount of dedication, desire for improvement and genuine passion for improving the experience and quality of life of Australians accessing aged care is a reoccurring message.

Thank you to all those health professionals who nominated their peers and colleagues for a Health Manager Leadership Award.

Congratulations to all the award winners listed below.

NSW Health Manager Leadership Award Winner (Aged care): Saviour Buhagiar

Job title: Director, Ageing

Organisation: Uniting NSW.ACT

Nominated by a peer because:

Saviour has been an extraordinary leader in extraordinary times. Saviour has led the residential team through the last 24 months which began with the widespread fires, including an evacuation of a home in Springwood and then closely followed by COVID-19 Pandemic, the Royal Commission and again more recently the latest COVID-19 lockdown of which Uniting experienced 7 outbreaks within the Age Care facilities across NSW. Throughout this he has been accessible and led the team through uncertainty, managing organisational outcomes as well as the safety of our residents and employee’s, which he sees as paramount. Saviour has led with the advocacy of our people uppermost in his mind and challenged the direction offered by Government authorities when needed, for example his advocacy that if COVID-19 was to be in one of our services the resident deserved the right to the best medical treatment which meant hospitalisation, this was his vision despite this not being the advice from Health.

Saviour is an outstanding leader of our Ageing Directorate and shows immense compassion for our people. He personally takes the steps to ensure our people feel supported and that their contribution is valued. He provides clear direction and clarity and the outcome of multiple outbreaks during the most recent COVID-19 lockdown is a demonstration of the leadership he has shown ensuring all our employees and clients remained safe with minimal impact.

NSW Health Manager Leadership Award Winner (Aged care): Mary Carpenter

Job title: Director, Governance, Risk and Quality


Nominated by a peer because:

Mary who runs the Governance Risk and Quality directorate with Uniting has demonstrated the highest quality of leadership. She has led our COVID-19 response and managed the risk of COVID-19 for our People, Clients and their loved ones throughout the past 24 months.

Mary remains extremely calm and supportive in a time of crisis which allows our Senior Leaders and their teams to be able to clearly understand the requirements of the organisation in response to the evolving changes as a result of COVID-19. She shows tremendous leadership to our people making the time to ensure she answers any concerns or questions around the ever-changing restriction requirements and outbreak crisis management. Mary has made herself accessible for all to contact 24 hours 7 days a week during the most recent lockdown in NSW and ACT which has demonstrated to our people how important it is that they remain safe and that our people clients and their loved ones feel supported and safe to be connected to our organisation during these unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances.

Mary has led our organisation through this pandemic with such attention to detail and ensured we always had the most up to date correct information being passed down from the NSW Government.

Her Leadership has enabled our organisation to have minimal impact throughout the last 24 months around the COVID-19 pandemic and meant that all our people have remained safe.

Health Manager Leadership Award Winner (Aged care): Regina Clara

Job title: Regional Clinical Manager - Sydney Central

Organisation: HammondCare

Nominated by a peer because:

Regina is a high-spirited and extremely empowering leader. During the past year she has shown the ability to work under all circumstances and still continues to uplift the teams and support them to provide the best evidence-based and personalised care to the residents in our care.  It has been a very tough 24 months in our industry and Regina's "can do with a smile" attitude continues to be a shining space for our managers. Nothing is too hard for Regina to help with, and she is always there guiding and supporting the teams. Regina supports 6 Residential Aged Care homes at HammondCare and helps to keep the team smiling and willing to do their best. Nothing is ever too hard for Regina to step in and help out. She is an exemplary leader in our industry and it is an honour to work with her in our Region. I would love to be able to clone her a million times for the Aged Care space.

NSW Health Manager Leadership Award Winner (Aged care): Alasdair Croydon

Job title: Chief Operating Officer

Organisation: Mark Moran Group

Nominated by a peer because:

Over the period of the pandemic Alasdair has provided an exemplar level of leadership developing and then working with staff to implement the overall management and response plan for Covid 19 for the organisation. He provided continual communication to residents and family members as well as staff ensuring transparency in the organisation’s approach. Over the lockdown period some 50+ risk assessments were conducted to ensure the policies were being followed. During this time a reaccreditation survey of one of the aged care facilities met the 8 standards and 42 outcomes without any additional comments. Alasdair leads the development of an effective process for staff to have effective access to all relevant policies which allowed rapid and confident responses to the accessors. The staff are proud of the quality of care that the organisation provides. The risk management policies and procedures were strengthened under Alasdair's leadership with both corporate and clinical risks being effectively managed by staff and reported at the board level. Mark and Evette Moran the organisation’s co-founders comment that Alasdair’s leadership reflects not only his knowledge and experience but his dedication and drive to make a difference that shows in the positive response by residents and families to the care they receive.  Alasdair is an exceptional leader within the aged care sector, building with the organisation staff the policies and systems needed to provide exceptional care on a sustained basis.

NSW Health Manager Leadership Award Winner (Aged care): Stephanie Elliott

Job title: Manager of Residential Services

Organisation: Fresh Hope Care

Nominated by a peer because:

Since commencing in her current role in 2020 Stephanie has done an outstanding job in improving the care and wellbeing of residents as well as improving staff engagement. This year Stephanie ran a kindness initiative on site to encourage staff with their agreed team charter. In a recent staff engagement survey undertaken across the whole organisation, Stephanie’s site had the highest level of staff engagement, an outstanding result and testament to her leadership. Stephanie is a hands-on Manager who is currently mentoring two young RNs as Care Managers. With her mentoring and support these staff have developed the passion and skills required to meet the future needs of the aged care workforce. Stephanie knows and understands the needs of her residents and instils this resident focus across her team. In June 2021 a redevelopment of the Green Hills site was announced which required the closure of an existing buildings. This resulted in the relocation of 60 residents and significant staffing changes. The initial time frame for implementation was 6 months, however under Stephanie’s leadership all residents were successfully relocated, and staffing changes implemented within three months, without any care or industrial issues. Stephanie is a fitness enthusiast who leads twice weekly boot camp for staff as well as a 5-minute burst of exercise to start key Aged Care Meetings, which have now become legendary through the broader organisation.

Health Manager Leadership Award Winner (Aged care): Chantel Evans

Job title: Residential Manager

Organisation: HammondCare

Nominated by a peer because:

Chantel has been a saving grace for our Residential residents and team at our Darlinghurst site. She faces interesting challenges everyday working with the homeless or risk of homelessness residents that we care for in our Darlinghurst home and does it with grace and phenomenal leadership. The team at Darlinghurst are forever thankful for her calm and reassuring presence, her presence on the floor working side by side with them, she walks alongside the team supporting them and guiding them to ensure best quality standards are met. During the COVID pandemic, working with people who are used to being homeless and being able to access the community when they wished was challenging and working alongside them to support them and work with them as they also navigated COVID showed leadership, inventiveness, and a lot of patience. Chantel is a bright shining star with an amazing growing career in our Aged Care sector. It takes a true leader to accomplish what she does in our Darlinghurst home. She deserves true recognition of her amazing leaderships efforts working on the frontline with the passion that she has for the residents and their wellbeing

NSW Health Manager Leadership Award Winner (Aged care): Jo Holden

Job title: Executive Director, Performance and Planning in the Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health Network

Organisation: NSW Department of Health

Nominated by a peer because:

The SHEOC Aged Care team was established within the State Health Emergency Operations Centre (SHEOC) in August 2020. The team lead operational planning and support to co-ordinate and escalate NSW Health’s emergency response capability to COVID-19, across more than 940 residential aged care facilities and Multipurpose Services in the state. Jo Holden was appointed as the Director of SHEOC Aged Care. During November and December 2020, SHEOC Aged Care undertook a joint planning exercise with the Commonwealth Department of Health and Home Affairs, facilitated by the Australian Defence Force (ADF), using ADF planning tools. Although this novel approach to whole-of-government (WOG) planning was a joint effort, Jo had excelled as leader of her SCHEOC team. She provided regular, honest, and, if necessary, difficult feedbacks to her team. As an exceptional people leader, Jo modelled the behaviour she expected from her team. She has shown empathy, humility, resilience, vision, influence, and positivity. Jo was encouraging strategic thinking, innovation, and action. However, Jo’s major strength was her ability to practice effective cross-cultural communication, thus bridging the gap between the Commonwealth Health Department and SHEOC’s approach to provision of aged care services. She was one of the presenters at this year’s ACHSM Congress and her presentation title was: A novel approach to planning a coordinated government emergency response to COVID-19 within residential aged care facilities using Australian Defence Force planning tools.

NSW Health Manager Leadership Award Winner (Aged care): Marilyn Jolly

Job Title: Executive Manager of Care


Nominated by a peer because:

Marilyn led a team across Residential Operations for Sydney North West. After several attempts to retire during the past 12 months, Marilyn demonstrated great leadership by seeing through 7 COVID-19 outbreaks in her services throughout Sydney West and delayed her retirement to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our people and clients was a priority.

Her leadership in co-ordinating employees to work in the COVID-19 red zones throughout these 7 services including moving employees from interstate to come in and support, managing the furloughed employees ensuring their wellbeing and supporting the leaders in these facilities to deliver on the highest quality of safety and PPE to protect everyone of further transition was simply outstanding.

Marilyn remained calm and was transparent about the evolving situations occurring each day. She would lead communication with our people, our clients and their loved ones keeping them informed and clear on the daily situations in the facilities. She made the management of these outbreaks seamless and easy.

On top of this Marilyn saw the very important need to maintain a strong wellbeing with no deterioration occurring for our clients. She could see the impact that the outbreak and isolation from loved ones had on our residents, when visiting was not permitted in Residential Aged Care Facilities. Marilyn then acted and created a new protocol that was presented to Government officials around how we could manage visiting for loved ones, this was subsequently endorsed, before the more general relaxing of lock down rules. A true demonstration of her compassion for our clients.

NSW Health Manager Leadership Award Winner (Aged care): Greg Parnell

Job title: Clinical First Responder

Organisation: Aspen Medical

Nominated by a peer because:

Greg has demonstrated excellence in leadership while supporting residential aged care facilities in responding to COVID-19 outbreaks in NSW. Greg has consistently empowered facilities and staff in mitigating COVID-19 risk and impact to residents, through holistic management strategies. Furthermore, Greg has trained and mentored clinicians of varying backgrounds and experience levels, consistently receiving positive feedback for his positive attitude, strong knowledge base, and resilience. Greg is a highly valued resource by facilities which he engages with, and is an asset to his team. Greg is deserving of recognition as a leader within health management.

Health Manager Leadership Award Winner (Aged care): Elizabeth Twomey

Job title: Nursing Unit Manager, Aged Care Rehabilitation Unit

Organisation: Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Unit

Nominated by a peer because:

Liz is a dedicated, motivated and caring leader who provides excellent care to patients within a challenging environment. She is a supportive and considerate team leader, who builds strong relationships with her team. Liz has been NUM of the Aged Care Unit in the Long Bay Hospital for a number of years and expresses a great deal of passion for her role. She is a wonderful advocate for her patients, who are an exceptionally vulnerable group. The custodial environment is a complex setting and Liz ensures that excellent stakeholder relationships are built and maintained, in particular with the Network’s partner agency, Corrective Services. Most importantly Liz really cares about her patients, her hard work and dedication to the provision of high-quality patient care is inspirational.  Thanks for the opportunity to nominate Liz, she truly deserves an award!

NSW Health Manager Leadership Award Winner (Aged care): Daniel Walsh

Job title: Clinical Manager

Organisation: Aspen Medical

Nominated by a peer because:

Daniel consistently demonstrates leadership within health management. Daniel has supported more than 30 residential aged care facilities in NSW alone, in their response to COVID-19 outbreaks. Furthermore, Daniel leads a team of senior clinicians/managers who provide holistic support to residential aged care facilities, through implementing a range of management and governance processes which empower facilities to effectively mitigate COVID-19 risk and impact. Daniel is recognised by peers as having strong subject matter expertise, and role models leadership values. Daniel is a resilient and adaptable leader and is deserving of recognition as a leader within health management.

NSW Health Manager Leadership Award Winner (Aged care): Bradley Warner

Job title: Nurse Manager, Aged Care Liaison and Support, COVID Response Team, SWSLHD

Organisation: South Western Sydney Local Health District

Nominated by a peer because:

Bradley Warner is a Nurse Manager, Aged Care for SWSLHD. Over the last eighteen months he was tasked with leading key engagement and support strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic for the Aged Care Sector. Bradley has been instrumental in ensuring true transparent and friendly collaboration between state and Commonwealth Aged Care providers within South-Western Sydney. Bradley quickly became and key leadership figure within the Aged Care community, bringing together over 60 aged care providers in one virtual room to ensure seamless engagement and unity. As an eclectic group of multi-organisations, jurisdictions, individuals and clinicians, our mission was simple, to keep both Aged Care staff and residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Aged Care Sector has not felt this support by LHDs in the past. Bradley and his team wholeheartedly supported 60 aged care providers and he personally went out to give extra support and encouragement for them so they would survive the epicentre of the Pandemic which was the SWS LHD. Bradley is a resilient, modern leader who was able to lead a large team of people from various and diverse backgrounds. Bradley united the aged care sector through visibility, perseverance and a genuine passion for maintaining the quality of life for the elderly during the many challenges a pandemic cast upon a community. As an aged care sector we quickly became followers of Bradley and applaud his ability to lead, share and engage. Bradley is a genuine character, with a heightened level of professionalism and a role model that affirms the future for Aged Care in South Western Sydney.

Feedback from some of the 2020 NSW Health Manager Leadership Award Nominees

“I am overwhelmed by the nomination and humbled by the experience.   It has been a tough year all round both personally and professionally and I always try to ensure the kinks aren’t shown in the armour we wear each day, supporting our staff/ teams and patients and families we serve.  I work in a dynamic team of paediatric Health Service Managers that grow in strength to strength. We have all adapted to the new challenges that have been brought with Covid and continue grow, develop and support each other.  It’s a privilege to work with the team and be recognised.”

  • Chrissy Ceely: Head of Clinical Governance Unit, Sydney Children's Hospital Network

“I am so very humbled. This achievement was only possible due to the wonderful team that I work with both at a District and State Level. With their support, hard work, contributions and dedication we have been able to navigate and address the challenges of this year to ensure safe and quality care for our patients and the community across the State whilst supporting the wellbeing of our staff in this Marathon. I am so very proud to be a Leader in NSW Health and believe Health Manager leadership is worthy of celebration.”

  • Anne Smith: Physiotherapy Head of Discipline & Associate Director of Allied Health, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District

“2020 started the same as any other year – busy and focussed. Within a matter of weeks life changed. We were tasked with setting up COVID testing clinics with existing staff and minimal resources and with positive cases to treat. As a manager and leader I realised very quickly that I had to be clear and concise with my communication, work on my own resilience and develop a toolkit so I could be the support person to the rest of my team.” 

  • Colleen Ryan: Manager of Community and Allied Health Services Hastings Macleay clinical network Mid North Coast Local Health District, Mid North Coast Local Health District

“Feeling very humble, I absolutely love what I do and just so grateful to be able to contribute and make a difference to our health system, staff patients and community. I have an amazing team that continue to go above and beyond and an amazing and supportive work environment of inspirational and awe inspiring people.”

  • Kathy Dempsey: Senior Manager, Healthcare Acquired Infections, Clinical Excellence Commission

“I am deeply honoured to be nominated for the inaugural NSW Health Manager Leadership Awards. Receiving this recognition is a testament to my mentor and supervisor Dr Liz Mullins, whose unwavering leadership as the Director of Medical Services of the Bega Valley Health Service has been inspirational. Additionally the leadership and management of the Bega Valley Health Services Executive Team has been phenomenal.”

  • Lachlan Gordon: Medical Administration Registrar, South East Regional Hospital

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be nominated. I truly appreciate this nomination and recognition of the NSW Branch ACHSM awards, especially in its inauguration. The fact that ACHSM is the peak organization for health service management in Australasia is an added honour.”

  • Eva Ballai: Captain (Army Reservist) and RACF Manager, ADF & Hall and Prior Health and Aged Care Group

“This award is very unexpected but it really made my day to receive it in my inbox and know that a colleague had nominated me. It is such a privilege to work as a public health employee in a position of leadership and this pandemic has pushed my capabilities as a leader and senior executive beyond what I thought was possible. I take my job and responsibilities very seriously and not only have always been driven to ensure the allied health workforce is not only safe and supported every day at work but can thrive to be the best they can for the patients we look after. I really love developing future health managers and leaders and seeing people grow and achieve their best.”

  • Jacqueline Dominish: Director Allied Health, Western Sydney Local Health District

“It’s been a difficult year for all, but unimaginable for some. This inaugural award and recognition of health leadership by the ACHSM NSW is a timely reminder of the impact leaders can have at all levels, in all circumstances. Whilst it has been a fatiguing year in health, I have been inspired by those around to dig a little deeper, as many have. This nomination is recognition of the hard work of the teams I have had the privilege in leading.”

  • Glenn Sisson: Officer Commanding, Health Company, 5 Combat Service Support Battalion (5CSSB) and Manager (RN) of the NSW Institute of Trauma and Injury Management, Australian Defence Force - Army Reserve and Ministry of Health

Award recipients

2020 award recipients