Former Gunnedah resident Melissa O’Brien has been awarded the Public Service Medal for outstanding service to public health through leadership and practical assistance to the ACT’s COVID-19 response.

The award was announced in the King’s Birthday Honours List and presented at Government House on September 14, by the Governor-General of Australia, David Hurley.

The granddaughter of well-known Gunnedah identity, the late Ray Warne and his wife Ivy, and the daughter of Jenny, Melissa worked at Gunnedah Health Service from 2006-2017 and was health service manager from 2015-2017.

Melissa now works at Canberra Health Service as executive director of cancer and ambulatory support based at Canberra Hospital.

Melissa said she was “honoured and surprised” to receive the award and grateful that someone took the time to nominate her.

“Working in nursing for so many years, you never expect to receive any recognition” Melissa said.

“You do nursing because you love it. It was certainly a tough time for all medical staff during COVID.”

Melissa graduated from nursing at the University of Newcastle in 1994 and really appreciates the time she spent working with Hunter New England Health.

“I learnt so much during that time in Gunnedah and Manilla and have a great appreciation from working in an environment without all of the resources available in city hospitals.

“That experience is what helped me get to where I am today.”

Melissa and her husband John and daughters Marcella (16) and Louisa (15) moved to Canberra in 2017 when she was offered a position as assistant director of nursing for cancer services and ambulatory support based at Canberra Hospital.

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