Elder Rights Advocacy pays tribute to the inspirational Margaret O’Callaghan
Elder Rights Advocacy (ERA) would like to acknowledge the life of Margaret O’Callaghan, who passed away on Sept 8th, 2022. It was our great pleasure to know and work with Margaret. She was an inspiration! Her role as a founding member of the Older Persons Action Centre will not be forgotten, as her legacy lives on in the work we do today.
Margaret O’Callaghan OAM spent more than half of her life advocating for the rights of others. She began her nursing career in 1953 and, over the years, pursued further studies in psychology and Community Health.
In 1988 Margaret assisted the Older Persons Action Centre (OPAC), a dedicated group of older people acting and speaking up for the rights of themselves and their peers. OPAC founded Residential Care Rights (the former name of Elder Rights Advocacy) in 1990. Margaret was a member of the Management and Advisory Committee for RCR from 1990 – 1995. As a member, Margaret participated in many consultations at Deakin University surrounding the development of the standards for Commonwealth-funded residential care and the protection of the rights of older people.
Margaret undertook the role of educator for OPAC in many varied settings, ranging from groups of people at the ‘grassroots’ level to tertiary institutions. She was subsequently appointed Community Visitor with the Office of the Public Advocate.
Margaret was a member of over 35 organisations and committees. She received numerous awards and recognition for her contribution to improving the lives of older people, including an OAM for Advocacy on Australia Day 2003.
Margaret was a residential aged care facility resident and firmly believed that aged care facilities should be person-centred: homes first, workplaces second and institutions third. During the 2020 lockdown, Margaret turned to drawing as solace. Her illustrations captured the isolation and disconnection experienced by residents in aged care facilities.
Margaret recently sat on the Steering Committee of Elder Rights Advocacy’s first Service Model Review, a testament to her desire to continue her community involvement for as long as she physically could.