Palliative care, anti-racism and supporting refugees were some of the important causes highlighted at the Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra last week.

The Perron Institute for Neurological and Translation Science congratulates the national winners and wishes to acknowledge Western Australia’s 2023 Australian of the Year, Professor Samar Aoun, an inspirational champion for improved palliative care and highly deserving of this honour.

“We are hugely proud that Professor Aoun was among a very impressive group of finalists for these high profile awards,” said Perron Institute Chief Executive Officer, Steve Arnott.

“As the Perron Institute Research Chair in Palliative Care at The University of Western Australia, and in her other roles, Professor Aoun is greatly respected for her leadership and advocacy for a public health approach to palliative care and grief support, with greater community involvement.

“She will fulfil the responsibilities and demands of her role as the 2023 WA Australian of the Year with distinction and will certainly make excellent use of the platform at the state and national levels for the causes she champions.

“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,” Steve Arnott said.

Professor Samar Aoun publishes and collaborates extensively internationally, and her work has informed policy and new practices. She contributed to the 2022 Oxford Textbook of Public Health Palliative Care, a comprehensive publication which looks beyond the traditional symptom-focused view of palliative care to emphasise the crucial roles of community and culture in death, dying, loss and caregiving.

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 Public Health Palliative Care reference group of the European Association of 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.