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Bev Cook, OAM

I'm really passionate about health and making sure rural Victorians get the same advantages as people in the city.

Local Champion

Mentor, leader and inspiration for women in the Mallee, Bev Cook lives in the small country town of Nandaly in Victoria's Mallee where she's proud "just to be part of the general community; working to achieve better outcomes for everybody in rural and remote areas".

Bev moved to the Mallee from Melbourne as a children's governess, married a local farmer, had a family and became involved in rural affairs through the Country Women's Association. As a member of the Mallee Crisis Committee in the early 1980s, Bev drove the establishment of the Mallee Support and Development Group to help rural farmers and their families survive a series of severe droughts. The committee was also instrumental in forming one of Australia's first rural counselling services.

"Helping other people is what I've tried to do all my life," says Bev. As a young woman Bev was greatly inspired by a certain member of the Catholic Women's League. "I couldn't get over the way she used to just stand up and speak with so much confidence. I always thought wouldn't it be lovely to be able to do that. I probably have achieved it to a certain degree." Bev certainly has.

She's on the Sea Lake Hospital auxiliary, is a member of the hospital board, and played a key role in establishing the Carinya local aged-care facility. In 1989 she was elected as a councillor for Wycheproof Shire, where she was also mayor. Bev's extensive community contribution has been acknowledged with Citizen of the Year awards in the Sea Lake and Buloke shire councils and an Order of Australia Medal.

Bev remains passionate about rural health and is devoted to her family, community and working for the betterment of the people in her life.