Although humbled by her Order of Australia nomination, Wollongong woman Colleen Mandicos was hesitant about accepting the prestigious award, believing there were others more deserving.
After much convincing, the 73-year-old said she'd consider her Medal of the Order of Australia an acknowledgement of all those who aided her career success.
With a focus on migrant populations and their ageing, Ms Mandicos' passion for helping others was ignited in the 1950s.
"Migrants weren't particularly treated well in the 50s and I always thought it was unfair," Ms Mandicos told AAP.
"I have a strong philosophy around trying to assist migrants wherever they come from through the ageing process, as it's often very difficult if you haven't spent your younger years in the country when you need care."
Ms Mandicos began her career working for the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra, followed by work in aged and disability services at CatholicCare Wollongong.
She joined the board at Multicultural Aged Care Illawarra in 1989 and has held the position of Chair since 2000.
"We see ourselves as a small boutique organisation and we like to keep our focus mostly on helping people from migrant backgrounds have the care they deserve," Ms Mandicos said.
After a difficult few years for the aged care sector, Ms Mandicos hopes well-publicised issues regarding funding and staff inexperience will improve.
"My greatest hope is that as an industry we can return to a focus on our philosophy of individual care and that it will be better than it has been," she said.
Australian Associated Press