Caring for carers makes Ronnie Benbow Citizen of the Year

Published 21 January 2021

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After dedicating her life to caring for others, Cedar Creek local Ronnie Benbow has been honoured as Moreton Bay Regional Council’s 2021 Australia Day Awards Citizen of the Year.

She founded the Carer’s Foundation in 2015, Australia’s only charity providing wellness programs to unpaid carers at no cost.

Mayor Peter Flannery said Ronnie’s essential work has changed the lives of carers right across Australia, helping to improve their health and give them hope.

“Almost no one is prepared for the demands, expectations and even isolation that comes with suddenly becoming an unpaid carer for someone you love,” Mayor Flannery said.

“In many ways Ronnie has singlehandedly led the charge to change that.

“Ronnie has cared for others professionally as a nurse, in her personal life, and now supports carers in Moreton Bay and beyond to improve and maintain their physical and mental wellbeing.

“There are almost 3 million unpaid carers looking after loved ones across Australia who work hard every day behind the scenes and, as a carer herself, Ronnie knows too well the toll it takes mentally, physically and emotionally.

“The Carer’s Foundation delivers a free, three-day program for carers doing it tough where they’ll learn practical wellbeing strategies, make connections and take much-needed break.

“Ronnie was already received the Moreton Bay Australia Day Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019, and she’s continued going above and beyond by helping more than 1,000 carers over the past five years.

“Moreton Bay is so lucky to be home to such an incredible foundation led by Ronnie and her team, it’s fantastic we can acknowledge her achievements with this award.”

Ronnie said as a young, naïve 17-year-old nurse, she would see carers in a worse medical condition than the person they were caring for and knew they needed support.

“I used to think that one day I’m going to have a healing haven where carers can come to restore their own health and have someone to care for them for a change,” Ronnie said.

“It’s taken a lifetime but after all these years, I’ve finally got there.

“For carers to arrive so stressed and see them transform in just three days where they can take a break, connect with others and learn how to manage their stress, it’s just amazing.

“It’s a massive honour to be recognised and something that I would never have thought I would receive, I just love what I do.

“But this award is really for the all the carers out there so please if you know of any carers, especially those not coping, let us know so we can support them.”

Councillor Darren Grimwade (Div 11) said Ronnie’s efforts across her career are worth celebrating.

“It’s such an honour to pay tribute to the special people in our community like Ronnie,” Cr Grimwade said.

“The dedication Ronnie shows in caring for carers across Australia is truly incredible, you can’t help but be inspired by her work and her passion for helping others.”