Pioneer for health: Bob gets top honour

HEALTHY CHANGE: OAM recipient Creswick's Bob Orr lists establishing the John Curtain aged care facility as among his biggest achievements. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

HEALTHY CHANGE: OAM recipient Creswick's Bob Orr lists establishing the John Curtain aged care facility as among his biggest achievements. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

FOR Bob Orr, being a part of the community has always been essential.

The Creswick stalwart has worn many hats through the years. 

He was Hepburn’s mayor and essential in the establishment of much-needed aged care services in Creswick. 

This year he receives a OAM medal of the Order of Australia. Mr Orr’s services to health in the area have been ongoing.

He first joined Creswick District Hospital board in 1970; was president of Western Highlands Health Service in 1997 and president of Hepburn Health Service in 1998.

He only left the board late last year after four decades of service.

But Mr Orr’s most outstanding achievement, at least in his mind, would be his key role in the foundation and establishment of John Curtin Aged Care.

The centre was first established in 1985 and opened in 1986. It filled a huge gap in the then-existing health services for the town’s aging population.

“There was no real provision for long term aged care then,” Mr Orr said.

“We acknowledged there were a number of people (at the hospital) as long term patients.

“We conducted a survey to determine the number of prospective residents and to see if there was demand and if it was sustainable.” 

Fast-forward to 2016 and the service has grown enormously.

The centre started off as a 36-capacity centre. 

It now houses 62 permanent residents and has 19 independent living units – one of which Mr Orr lives in.

Mr Orr said the clientele had also changed over the decades.

Then, younger people aged in their 60s lived in the centre. 

Now, the clients were getting older and needed more permanent care.

Mr Orr said residents did not tend to stay in the centre for as long. 

He attributes this to the ageing population and increasing cost of aged care.

Mr Orr has seen many changes in the health system, not least the way boards – like the ones he was a  part of so many years – operate.

“There have been big changes with hospitals too, we went from a system where people had very long stays (in hospital) and now they have very short stays,” Mr Orr said.

Mr Orr  is a pioneer for regional health care and firmly believes the need for essential services in regional areas is stronger than ever.

Having these services in places like Creswick, is a benefit to the entire community.

“It is essential, both for the benefit of the older population, but also for people seeking work,” Mr Orr said.

He was the Hepburn Shire Mayor from 1997-8; and a councillor in Creswick in 2003.

Mr Orr acknowledged his Australia Day award as a great honour.

“There are a lot of people in town who deserve to be recognised. I’m very pleased, but I do think ‘why me?’.”