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Dr Olga Kanitsaki AM

Dr Kanitsaki is a retired nurse who dedicated her career to culturally sensitive and responsive health care services.

Honour Roll

Arriving in Melbourne in 1961 as a non-English speaking immigrant, Olga became a leader in nursing, specialising in transcultural health care issues. She has made an extraordinary contribution to the development of a multicultural health service that is responsive to the diverse needs of the many cultural groups in Victoria.

During her career, Olga held a number of senior managerial positions in both the health care service and higher education, and was appointed as Australia's first Professor of Transcultural Nursing and Head of Department of Nursing and Midwifery in 2000 at RMIT University.

She is a longstanding and outspoken advocate of cross-cultural considerations in health care and nursing. She has served on numerous advisory committees and boards for government, health professionals and community, providing expert advice on policies and programs concerned with the provision of culturally responsive health care to Australia's multicultural population. She has also acted as an interpreter, mediator and advocate for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) patients in hospitals and the community.

In 1995, Olga was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her service to nursing, particularly through the development of a multicultural health service. She has co-published extensively on cross-cultural issues in health care; consumer engagement; the link between culture, language and patient safety; racism in health care; and advance care planning in multicultural societies.

In 2012, Olga received further recognition of her work when the Centre for Cultural Diversity and Ageing launched a new award in her name: the Dr Olga Kanitsaki Award for Individual Excellence. This is now awarded to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and initiative in the delivery of culturally inclusive care.