Celeste’s medal winning outreach program improves the eye health of a Maori community

5 October 2021

Celeste Raisbeck was awarded the inaugural 2021 Dame Mary Perkins Medal at the SCC Lives Series in Brisbane on Wednesday, 15 September, for outstanding patient care and the positive impact she has made in her community.

Celeste has spent 27 of the past 30 years supporting the community of Rotorua and the surrounding region. The optometrist was involved with the Murupara outreach program before her practice became a Specsavers franchise in 2009.

“I was the only Rotorua Optometrist in the team of 20 – two ophthalmologists and their auxiliary staff. I got involved with the program because the community is remote and has a high Maori population and a lack of health services.

“Forty per cent of Rotorua’s population identify as Maori and the Murupara community is almost 90% Maori with the median age over 50. Murupara is a remote inland town and only has one dedicated medical practice,” adds Celeste.

Celeste was recognised for her work with the program, this was her sixth time she has been involved with an outreach to Murupara.

“This one was unique because it was the first outreach driven by the Ophthalmologists to provide Eye Health information for our local District Health Board (DHB).

“The Ophthalmologists specifically wanted to check for the prevalence of undiagnosed eye disease. I was the only Optometrist involved, although others were invited,” adds Celeste.

Celeste is passionate about providing care to the Murupara community as they have limited access to eye care.

“Murupara is a lovely part of our country, but it’s remoteness and small size make it difficult to provide regular health services of any kind. Public transport is very limited, so people are reliant on others taking them on the three-hour round trip for appointments.

“The community has higher needs due to the predominantly Maori and ageing population,” adds Celeste.

Being selfless by nature, Celeste wouldn’t be accepting her recognition had it not been for her team.

“I want to thank my team for their hard work and dedication. Without them I wouldn’t be able to provide the service and care for our community,” says Celeste.

If you know of someone in your team that has made a difference to an individual or a community, please nominate them when nominations open for 2022.

Click here to see the video of Dame Mary Perkins announcing the winners, or here to read more about Celeste’s recognition.