Colac woman's recognition for community care

WHEN Colac’s Diane Wright reflects on her induction onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women, she is inspired by her great-great aunt who was a social justice and suffrage pioneer more than a century ago.

Ms Wright was recognised for her work in founding Anam Cara House residential hospices in Geelong and Colac.

Her ancestor Annette Bear-Crawford, who helped establish the Queen Victoria Hospital for unmarried mothers and their children, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children as well as several women’s suffrage groups,  was born in 1853 exactly 100 years before her great-great niece was  born.

Ms Wright had worked in palliative care for a number of years and identified a need for further care which she put to the community for support.

It led to a former Catholic presbytery in Myers Street, Geelong being converted into a hospice for palliative respite care in 2007.

Colac’s community later approached her to establish a similar facility there.

“People were telling me they needed support and respite and a place that felt like home when home wasn’t possible,” she said.

“Home is the first choice, but it’s not always possible.

“Anam Cara feels like a home, it doesn’t feel clinical.

“The benefits are that they get personalised attention.

“We provide good nursing care and emotional, spiritual care for them and their whole family too because it’s a journey for them too.”

Ms Wright paid tribute to the Colac community for making the vision a reality and raising more than $2 million. 

As one of 20 women to be inducted onto the honour roll at Parliament House last week, Ms Wright said she felt honoured to be included among such inspiring and innovative women. 

And her caring nature runs in the family. Her husband Andrew volunteers at Anam Cara and a son, Mark, volunteered for the building project.

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