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In Memoriam: Celebrating the life of June Heinrich, AM

It is with sadness that we acknowledge the passing of June Heinrich AM, former CEO and Board member of BaptistCare, on Wednesday 2 September.

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2 September, 2020

It is with sadness that BaptistCare acknowledges the passing of June Heinrich AM, former CEO and Board member of BaptistCare on Wednesday 2 September.
Our love and condolences go to June’s husband Bill, her family and her many friends.

June's contribution to BaptistCare cannot be understated. The story of June being selected as the CEO, says a lot about this dynamic and strong-willed character. After serving on the BaptistCare Board for a little over a year, during the search for a new CEO, the other Board directors asked to see June’s resume. June had held various senior leadership roles, including head of training for NSW prisons, but had no background in nursing, aged care or community welfare. June enjoyed her role as director of community development and library information services with the City of Ryde, and had no reason to leave. It was with considerable ambivalence that she agreed to be interviewed.

‘They asked me inane questions,’ she remembered, ‘like “How would your husband cope?” and “What would you wear as CEO?”’. Cutting them short, she told them she was quite happy with her current job and would only consider an offer if it was unanimous. When Roger Peffer (then Chair of the Board) called to offer her the CEO role, she asked him to confirm it was unanimous; it was and she accepted, leading the organisation as CEO from 1994 until her retirement in 2010.

In the words of June’s daughter Bec, in addition to being a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend, June was a “leader, change agent and community builder”. When we look at her time with BaptistCare, these words couldn’t be more true.

During her time as CEO, June streamlined management processes and helped pivot the organisation towards the future, consolidating its Christian identity, refreshing the mission and vision and rebranding with a new identity. Under June’s leadership, statements that set out the Christian foundations lying at the heart of BaptistCare were communicated across every part of the organisation and chaplains were appointed to every location.

June championed policies to value people and their individual differences across BaptistCare, as well as seeking out meaningful programs for residents involving art and music.

June was one of the first industry leaders to astutely identify home care as a critical emerging need in Australia which was met with some scepticism by her counterparts in other states, but she appealed to their compassion and common sense, saying, “Ask any older person what they want to do, and the majority will say they want to stay at home for as long as possible. If they feel they already have the relationship, and trust you, they will come to you if they do have to go into residential care. You can smooth their transition and make it that much easier.” With the benefit of hindsight when we look at aged care now, it’s clear now June’s words have proved entirely correct.

June’s background in corporate training alerted her to the risks and opportunities inherent in a largely unskilled aged care nursing workforce – so she introduced training, which attained accreditation as a formal qualification, revolutionising the industry.

June was recognised in 2003 with an OAM for her work with BaptistCare, the Centenary Medal for exceptional services in aged care, and the University of Newcastle conferred upon her the honorary degree of Doctor of Education and appointed her a conjoint professor of its Faculty of Health Sciences.

We are so thankful to God for June; for her life, her contribution to BaptistCare and the knowledge that she is no longer in any pain, but is at peace in our loving Father’s arms.