Former Acting Public Advocate, Barbara Carter, and Independent Third Person, Geoff Penna, have been recognised with the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia for their service to the community in the 2022 Queen's Birthday Honours List.
Barbara has held a range of roles with OPA including:
- Senior Policy and Research Officer, since 2007
- Manager, Adult Guardianship and Advocacy, 1999-2007
- Coordinator, Community Guardianship Program and Advocate/Guardian,1992-1999.
She is a 'lifetime friend' of arbias (Alcohol Related Brain Injury Australian Services), and was a board member from 1997 to 2004, serving as president from 2000 to 2004.
Barbara is currently a member of the Royal Children's Hospital Community Advisory Committee and was previously a board member of Specific Learning Difficulties Victoria (2012-2014) and Hanover Welfare Services (1999-2002), and a council member of the Outer Eastern College of TAFE (now Swinburne University), 1990-1998.
Geoff Penna, who has been an Independent Third Person since 2016, was recognised for his service to the communities of Ararat and Elmhurst.
A lifelong CFA volunteer, Landcare champion, community health advocate and business leader in the Ararat and Elmhust communities, Geoff told the Ararat Advertiser that his proudest achievement is perhaps his least-known role.
"I've been a JP since 2003 and an Independent Third Person said 2016," he said.
"If the police arrest an alleged offender, who may have a cognitive disability, we get called into the police station.
"There are only two of us in the area that does it. The police can't start the interview until we've interviewed the person.
"That's to help the person through the interview because some have never been in a police station, let alone a cell. That's pretty daunting. I've done 90 interviews across Ararat, Stawell, Maryborough and Ballarat."