Former Oberon resident Rosemary Harris receives Medal of the Order of Australia

COMMUNITY WORK: Rosemary Harris has lived in Hazelbrook for two years, but was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to Oberon.

COMMUNITY WORK: Rosemary Harris has lived in Hazelbrook for two years, but was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to Oberon.

Former Oberon resident Rosemary Harris has loved working with children over the years.

On Australia Day she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the community of Oberon.

Mrs Harris moved to the Blue Mountains two years ago to be closer to her two children, but spent more than 20 years in Oberon, spending much of her time helping others through the Oberon United Hospital Auxiliary and Oberon Health Council, and managing the Bathurst branch of the Shepherd Centre for the hearing impaired.

Working as a kindergarten teacher for 20 years because “pre-school children are my great love”, Mrs Harris then undertook further training which enabled her to work at the Shepherd Centre, a charitable organisation that works with deaf and hearing impaired children.

She worked with hearing impaired children and their families using an oral program and would regularly visit families in their homes to provide support and assistance. 

Many of the children progressed to being integrated into mainstream schooling.

“If you can get them in the hearing world and not be signing, that was a great satisfaction,” Mrs Harris said.

“I worked right up to the time Cochlear implants were established as a method of hearing for them.” 

I worked right up to the time Cochlear implants were established as a method of hearing for them.

OAM recipient Rosemary Harris

Now 82, Mrs Harris retired many moons ago, and found she “couldn’t just sit at home,” so she got involved with the hospital auxiliary in Oberon, presiding over the group for 13 years.

There was many a fundraiser and Mrs Harris’ damper was highly sought after at the monthly markets.

“People would come in especially for them [the damper],” Mrs Harris recalled.

She was invited to join the Oberon Health Council because of her work with the auxiliary.

It was an appointment which she found very interesting for many years.

Mrs Harris has been a member of the Blue Mountains division of Legacy Australia for two years, saying the association had a “lovely, warm feeling about it”.

Mrs Harris’ involvement with Legacy began in 1942 when her family received help from the organisation after the death of her father, who was a soldier in the Second World War.

She remembers with gratitude the help Legacy gave to her mother in raising her family, which included a brother and three sisters.

“It must have been nice for her to have somebody to rely on to have a happy childhood,” she said.

Upon hearing she’d been nominated for an OAM, Mrs Harris was surprised, and then “really chuffed” to accept the award.