Top honour for Roma’s last end-of-life pastoral carer
Coming to the end of life all alone is a dreadful experience for many, but one Roma man has been given a top honour for his dedication to end of life care for those in need.
British expat David Cooper has spent much of his life looking after those in need, from struggling farmers to the elderly and those coming to the end of life.
And now, Roma’s last end-of-life pastoral care worker has been awarded the region’s top honour - a Citizen of the Year Award for Australia Day, January 26.
After moving from the United Kingdom in 1967 at the age of 19, he struggled to find work in Sydney.
But he was accepted into a position at a sheep station and worked his way up from a jackaroo to the manager.
Mr Cooper married a local woman, had three children, and moved to Roma to be closer to the facilities his family needed.
But he decided to step into his first support gig while working at the Depatment of Prime Indutstry, helping support drought-affected farmers get by.
But soon Mr Cooper moved onto nursing homes and hospitals, giving support to those who need someone by their side.
He worked in a paid part-time position with the Queensland Community Care network too and helped introduce new volunteers to nursing homes and the hospital.
When asked about why he decided to dedicate his time to helping others, he said it’s just something he’s always done.
“It’s an ongoing thing. It’s a learning thing all way along,” he said.
He also thanks his Christian faith for guiding him towards this path.
And having the opportunity to support those in need is the most rewarding part of his job.
“There are many times, in the nursing home and the hospital, where I’ve sat with people at the time of their passing because either (but not very often) their family can’t handle it, other times, they don’t have a family,” Mr Cooper said.
A job like his doesn’t come without stress though.
“That’s why I’ve had to stand back a little bit because it was having an effect on my mental and spiritual health.”
Mr Cooper decided it was time to hang up the towel in 2020 after the COVID pandemic hit, but his work has certainly not gone unnoticed.
As the last person qualified to provide his type of care in Roma, Mr Cooper believes there should be some new blood trained up to take the helm.
The Australia Day award recipient looked back on the time he was naturalised in 1969, with a humble private ceremony in Roma with the mayor.
He made the move to become an Australian after he realised that he’d gotten used to the community and settled down with his family.
And he also recognises some differences of life as an Aussie compared to back in England, saying one of the biggest differences is the population.
“What’s happening now is fairly difficult for them,” he said.
“They’re not even allowed in hospital now and I have a friend who had to wait a long time to get an operation, it’s just the way it is now,” and his friend could risk dying without the treatment they need.
“It’s a different world.”
Originally published as Top honour for Roma’s last end-of-life pastoral carer