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Seniors of Excellence Awards 2020

Established in 2014 the Seniors of Excellence NT Awards acknowledge and celebrate the significant contribution our Senior Territorians aged 65+, make to our community over many years.  Volunteers who support a wide range of community organisation’s across the Northern Territory and do so without any expectation of recognition.

The annual awards are held as part of the Seniors Week activities.

This year two long term Somerville supporters received Seniors of Excellence NT Awards.

We would like to congratulate Robyne Burridge OAM, Somerville Ambassador and Kathleen Short OAM, Somerville volunteer on receiving their Seniors and Excellence Award.  Both these amazing women have made a significant contribution to the community and we share their BIO’s below. Thank you Robyne and Kathleen for the contribution you have made and continue to make to Somerville.

Robyne Burridge OAM

Highly regarded by both government and not for profit organisations as a leader, advocate and activist in the disability sector, Robyne is passionate about empowering people with a disability and she has continually strived  to ensure that, like herself, everyone has an  opportunity to equality, accessibility and quality of life.

Sally Thomas AC presenting the Seniors of Excellence award to Robyne Burridge OAM.

Photo: Sally Thomas AC presenting the Seniors of Excellence award to Robyne Burridge OAM.

Moving from Sydney to the Northern Territory in 1980 to co-ordinate the International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP) Robyne has continued to be  an advocate and activist serving on a wide range of community groups, committees and boards throughout the Territory, freely giving of her time,  knowledge and expertise.

Robyne was instrumental in the formation of IdA (Integrated disability Action) in 1996 as the Northern Territory’s peak consumer organisation for Territorians with disability. Robyne has worked tirelessly over many years to deliver on IdA’s mission “to help empower people with disability, to improve the quality of their own lives and to look at and improve the professionalism of the disability sector’.  In recognition of her contribution to IdA, Robyne was awarded an Honorary Life Member of the organisation in 2016.

Robyne established Focus-A-Bility in 2012 with the motto “Your ability is my Concern” and continues to provide advocacy, case management, information and assistance to individuals and with disability projects and events.

Robyne served 20 years as an alderman with the Darwin City Council, including one year as deputy Lord Mayor, which demonstrated her commitment to community service.  Her commitment to the community was acknowledged by the Local Government Association of the NT (LGANT) with a long service award for dedication and commitment to the local community in 2015 for 20 years of service.

Robyne was appointed as Somerville Community Services inaugural Ambassador in 2015 and continues to give her time as an influential mentor to the organisation and as a significant role model to staff.

Robyne’s tireless work advocating for inclusion and accessibility for people with disability was recognised in 2017 when she received the NT Human Rights Fitzgerald Social Change Award.

More recently, Robyne advocated to the Northern Territory Government around the need for a hydrotherapy pool for the community.  This was finally realised in the construction of the Palmerston Regional Hospital and is an integral part of the rehabilitation services provided to the community.

Robyne continues to give generously of her time providing advice to Government Ministers, Council representatives, women in business and is regularly invited to sit on representative and advisory councils.   Her lived experience and expertise has seen her mentor numerous CEOs and senior managers in the disability sector. 

In 2019 Robyne was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to people with disability.  A fitting testament to a woman who has spent her life giving of her time and passion to ensure accessibility for everyone.  

Kathleen Short OAM

Kathleen Short OAM pictured with Mike Foley OAM (founder of Seniors of Excellence NT) and Somerville Board Life Member Daphne Read AO.

Photo: Kathleen Short OAM pictured with Mike Foley OAM (founder of Seniors of Excellence NT) and Somerville Board Life Member Daphne Read AO.

Kathleen moved to the Northern Territory in 1965 with her husband Peter when he took up a position at the Royal Darwin Hospital.

In 1967 they moved to Katherine.  As an educator she taught at the local pre-school and primary school and served on many school committees. 

Kathleen also became immersed in the Katherine community. Having an interest in creative embroidery, she started the Katherine, Northern Territory branch of the Embroiderers' Guild of New South Wales in 1974 – now the Embroiderers' Guild of the Northern Territory.  She held the position of President of the branch for many years.

In the true spirit of community, Kathleen joined the Katherine District Show Society Council and became an art and craft steward through until 1988. In recognition for her many years of service Kathleen was made an Honorary Life Member of the Katherine District Show Society in 1987.

Kathleen consistently demonstrated her passion for the education and support of young people and her home was widely recognised as a drop-in centre for many young people.  She was a District Commissioner for the region’s Girl Guides group and also supported women to develop confidence and speaking skills through her involvement as a critic for the Penguin Club of Katherine.  

In 1984 Kathleen was elected to the Katherine Town Council and was re-elected in 1988 and appointed Deputy Mayor.

1997 saw Kathleen awarded the Order of Australia Medal in recognition of her many years of service to the Katherine community and to local government. 

In 1996 Kathleen moved back to Darwin and continued her ‘giving to community’ journey.  As a member of the Palmerston Uniting Church Kathleen commenced volunteering with a group of women at the Somerville Community Services’ Christmas Gift Wrapping stall at the Palmerston Shopping Centre.  Kathleen has continued as a Somerville volunteer for over 23 years.

She has also continued her involvement on various community-based committees and has served as Vice Chairman on the Order of Australia Association, Northern Territory Branch Committee.

Kathleen’s life has been one of service to the Northern Territory community.  A very deserving recipient of a Seniors of Excellence NT Award.

Kathleen Short AOM pictured with her daughters.

Photo: Kathleen Short AOM pictured with her daughters.