Professor Samar Aoun: 2023 Western Australia Australian of the Year


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Prof Samar Aoun is Perron Institute Research Chair in Palliative Care at The University of Western Australia. She is an inspirational champion for improved palliative care and greatly respected for her leadership and advocacy for a public health approach to palliative care and grief support, with greater community involvement. She is known as an innovator and a champion of practice and policy translation.

Professor Aoun’s research contribution has earned her international recognition, helping to improve understanding of palliative care and the opportunities for improvement through the compassionate communities model of care, with closer integration of clinical and community care aspects.

Her particular focus on improving the end-of-life journey for under-served groups such as people with motor neurone disease (MND) and dementia, terminally ill people who live alone, and family carers is admirable and one of many ways she is making a difference.

For palliative care to be accessible to everyone and everywhere, Prof Aoun’s vision is to make sure that every person, every family and every community knows what to do when someone is caring, dying or grieving. For this, she advocates for improving death literacy and grief literacy and for normalising having such conversations. Death, dying, grief and loss are everyone’s business and everyone’s responsibility in the community.

In a voluntary capacity, Professor Aoun is co-founder and chair of the South West Compassionate Communities Network in Western Australia, Vice-President of MND Australia , President of the MND Association of WA, and a board member of Palliative Care WA.

At the international level, she is a member of Public Health Palliative Care International, and the European Association for Palliative Care reference group on public health palliative care.

Among numerous awards, Professor Aoun received the Medal for Excellence from the European Society for Person Centred Healthcare in 2018 and the Centenary Medal in 2003 from Australia’s Prime Minister.

Prof Aoun comes from the village of Hamat in North Lebanon, having emigrated to Australia in 1992 with her husband and two children, after finishing her studies in the UK.

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