Karratha-based SAFE founder honoured with OAM

Alicia PereraPilbara News
SAFE founder Sue Hedley has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia (General Division) for service to animal welfare.
Camera IconSAFE founder Sue Hedley has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia (General Division) for service to animal welfare. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

The Karratha-based founder of animal rescue service SAFE has been awarded one of the nation’s highest gongs for outstanding achievement and service on the Australia Day Honours list.

Sue Hedley, who launched foster care-service SAFE almost 16 years ago, was announced a recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia (General Division) for her services to animal welfare.

Ms Hedley said she hoped her win would increase public awareness of the foster care model that underpinned SAFE.

“I wouldn’t have ever expected it, but I’m grateful that it’s happened,” she said of the award.

“I do know what I do every day and the positive impact that it has had on people and on animals, so I’m happy to have the award because it gives me the chance to share even more what we do, and how we do it and inspire other people.”

She thanked Karratha for supporting the service and its model over the years.

Ms Hedley opened the first SAFE branch in Karratha in 2003.

The mainly volunteer-run service has since grown to include 12 branches across regional and metropolitan WA, with SAFE’s headquarters still in in Karratha.

The organisation has re-homed more than 23,000 animals through adoption and been a major force in growing the profile of foster care Australia-wide.

Ms Hedley also volunteers as the service’s principal director and operations manager and is a board member of the Animal Welfare League of Australia.

SAFE volunteer Judy Webb, who was involved in Ms Hedley’s nomination, said her dedication to saving animals made her a deserving winner.

“I am over the moon because Sue ... lives and breathes SAFE,” she said.

“It’s really all about the animals who don’t have a voice, they can’t speak for themselves, and they need someone who has that passion and that ability to inspire other people to join, and that’s what is so amazing about Sue.”

In a speech at the City of Karratha Australia Day Awards ceremony on Saturday, MC Evette Smeathers congratulated Ms Hedley, saying the award was a “fantastic accomplishment” and a testament to her dedication.

Ms Hedley is the second City of Karratha resident to be awarded an OAM in the past two years, with Dampier educator and community leader John Lally receiving the honour in 2018.

She is believed to be only the second City resident to receive the award.

Also on the honour roll was Shire of East Pilbara president Lynne Craigie, who received an OAM for services to local government and the Pilbara community.

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