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Life Members

Helen McFarlane

A NSW Public Servant for 29 years, Helen retired from her position with NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) as Manager Carers in 2021. For the last 15 years of her career, Helen worked to help ensure that carers had the services and supports they need and that they are recognised and respected. Under Helen’s leadership, the NSW Government delivered two whole of government Carer Strategies, an Act of Parliament to recognise carers, established the NSW Carer Advisory Council, published a paper on co-design and delivered various awareness campaigns. Helen worked closely with Carers NSW during her career and has always been strategic and supportive and went above and beyond to improve outcomes for carers in NSW. In acknowledgement of her outstanding service and contribution to carers across NSW, Helen was awarded Life Membership in 2022.

Laraine Toms

Laraine first joined the Carers NSW Board in 2001, bringing a wealth of caring experience, passion and commitment to the role and to the organisation. Laraine was a strong advocate for carers, for them receiving support in their own right and for themselves. Laraine was elected President of Carers NSW in November 2006 and contributed greatly to the operation and strategic focus of the Board. Laraine was pivotal in advocating long and hard for carer legislation in NSW – something which she achieved during her tenure as President, with carer legislation being introduced in 2020. Laraine Toms was awarded Life Membership of Carers NSW in 2019 in acknowledgement of her outstanding service and contribution to carers and Carers NSW.

Felicity Purdy

Felicity Purdy is a former carer, and has worked with children and adults with disabilities, their families and services for more than 40 years. Felicity was appointed to the Carers NSW Board in 1998 and served as Secretary, Vice President and Carers NSW Nominee to the Carers Australia Board. Felicity was awarded Life Membership in November 2018 in acknowledgement of outstanding service and contribution to the Board of Carers NSW. Felicity completed her term on the Board in November 2023, having served for 25 consecutive years.

Marie Shipway

Marie worked as a volunteer at Carers NSW for over 17 years after a career as an entertainer. She was among the first volunteers to be involved in carer kit distribution with special responsibility for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) carer kits. She was awarded Life Membership in 2011.

Bart Madden

Bart began volunteering at Carers NSW in 2004 while completing his welfare education and became involved in young carer camps. Earlier in his career he worked for the RAAF, later moving into nursing with a special interest in developmental disability. Bart was awarded Life Membership in 2009.

Niall Quinlan

Niall began his volunteering career at Carers NSW when studying at the Australian College of Applied Psychology. He attended young carer camps as a camp leader for many years and was awarded Life Membership in 2005.

Muriel Foster

Muriel served on Carers NSW Board for 15 years after co-ordinating respite care programs in Sydney and was involved in a range of other services including Home and Community Care services and dementia support. She also cared for her mother. Muriel was awarded Life Membership of Carers NSW in 2005.

Nina Crown

The longest serving volunteer at Carers NSW, Nina gave much of her time to the organisation from the early 1990s. Her most important contribution was coordinating the compilation and distribution of carer kits. She also played a vital role in membership tracking and newsletter distribution. Nina was awarded Life Membership in 2002.

Patricia Dunn

Patricia devoted many years to the needs of young carers, initiating innovative programs like young carer camps at Carers NSW. She worked in a volunteer capacity as the Young Carer Project Information Officer until 2000. She was awarded Life Membership in that year.

Averil Fink

Averil was essentially the Founder of Carers NSW and had a long association with many community organisations including Council on the Ageing (COTA), Beehive Industries, Meals on Wheels and the Retirement Villages Association. Her interest in caring as a social issue spanned 35 years. Averil cared for her husband who died of a brain tumour in 1997 and received Life Membership of Carers NSW in 1998. She served on the Board of Carers NSW until her death in January 2011.

Joan Bullock

Joan served on the Carers NSW Board for 20 years until 2005 and then continued as a volunteer before her death in that year. Prior to her time at Carers NSW, she was an active member of the War Widows Guild. She was awarded Life Membership, the first bestowed by Carers NSW, in 1997.

For more information about Life Membership of Carers NSW, click here.