Hawkesbury District Health Service child and adolescent counsellor Michael Barratt is this year's recipient of the Jennifer Stratton Scholarship, in recognition of the compassion and respect he shows to his young clients, and their families.
The scholarship, which is open to all St John of God Health Care caregivers, including those who work at Hawkesbury (which is operated by the not-for-profit organisation), will give Michael the opportunity to follow the steps of Saint John of God on pilgrimage in Spain.
"All my joy comes from seeing a child and family start leading a life they deserve and to slowly become happy, confident, begin to dream and have hope," Michael said.
"I know what it feels like to be listened to and cared for and the simple fact that I may be fortunate enough to offer this to another person gives me a lot of meaning."
Counselling team manager Stephen Lillie said Michael always demonstrated great compassion and respect with clients and caregivers.
"Michael works in a very empathetic style and supports children to become their best and grow from a negative situation, especially when working with extremely difficult cases of abuse and child protection," Stephen said.
Michael has worked at Hawkesbury District Health Services for almost 15 years, although his connection with St John of God Health Care goes much further back.
"My mum has served as a registered nurse with St John of God Richmond Hospital for over 50 years; she was the first lay person to work with the Brothers of St John of God," Michael said.
"I began going to St John of God Richmond Hospital at the age of three, spending weekends, feast days and Christmas days with the Brothers and on the ward with my mum on weekends."
Michael said he was looking forward to embarking on the pilgrimage.
"I feel a great sense of pride and honour to be selected," he said.
The annual Jennifer Stratton Scholarship is awarded to a caregiver who demonstrates an outstanding example of the vision, mission and values of St John of God Health Care in their daily interactions, whether they are with caregivers, patients, clients or others.
The recipient is invited to participate in the St John of God pilgrimage, exploring the organisation's history and heritage by walking in the footsteps of Saint John of God.