Victorian pharmacists recognised for lifetime of service and legacy of achievement

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has paid tribute to two Victorian pharmacists, Valerie Constable and John Ware OAM, for their significant service to Australian pharmacy, as dual recipients of the PSA Symbion Lifetime Achievement Award at today’s 2021 PSA Viatris Award Ceremony.

For more than three decades, Valerie (Val) Constable has helped pave the way to optimise standards of pharmacy education and practice, becoming a trusted mentor to many.

A humble and highly regarded professional, Val was a leader for women in pharmacy. She was a preceptor, mentor, and role model to many and always made herself available to provide support and advice to any member of the profession who sought her wisdom or assistance. Val’s principles are epitomised by Pharmacists Support Services (PSS), the anonymous volunteer support service that she helped establish, and led for many years.

In 1991, Val was the first female in 135 years to be elected President of the PSA’s Victorian Branch. She rose above the glass ceiling through outstanding commitment, integrity, and professionalism. For over 35 years, Val and her husband Bob provided patient-centred care to their local communities through their pharmacies in Footscray and Pascoe Vale in Melbourne. She was a mentor to numerous trainees, many of whom have gone on to be prominent members of the profession.

Val recognised the need for greater structure in pharmacy training and worked with other pharmacists to establish the Chapter of Pharmacy Practice Tutors, and co-authored manuals on medical conditions treated through pharmacies. She was also a Board member of the National Asthma Campaign (precursor to the National Asthma Council), involved with educating pharmacists in asthma recognition and management, and development of the Asthma Management Plan.

John Ware, former National President of PSA and State President of PSA’s Victorian Branch, received this award posthumously, following his passing in January this year. John also received the PSA Victorian Lifetime Achievement Award last year.

He is a former President of the Australian College of Pharmacy Practice and Chair of the Faculty Council of the Victorian College of Pharmacy, Monash University. As Chair of the Victorian College of Pharmacy he led the team that integrated the monodisciplinary college of Pharmacy into a single faculty structure of Monash University.

John was one of only a small number of Australians to have been awarded a Fellowship of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). He contributed globally in the field of Pharmacy including as President of the Western Pacific Pharmaceutical Forum and as President of the FIP Foundation.

Notably, John established the concept of pharmaceutical care for Australia, enhancing the role of pharmacists in medication management. John and his wife Nariel have established the Ware Fellowship, to invest in postdoctoral research into leadership in pharmacy education.

PSA National President, A/Prof Chris Freeman, said: “Both Val and John have had such a tremendous impact on the profession, we made the decision to award the Lifetime Achievement Award to both of them this year.

“John had demonstrated sustained dedication to the pharmacy profession and had been a driving force in the development and expansion of the role of the pharmacist in Australia.

“Val has been a trailblazer in her own right, forging the path for women in the profession to follow. She has been a mentor to many pharmacists and has made substantial gains for pharmacist involvement in respiratory care,” A/Prof Freeman said.

Chief Executive of Symbion, Brett Barons, said: “John’s family should be extremely proud of his contribution to pharmacy not only in Australia but also globally. Our purpose at Symbion is to connect communities to care. This is very much aligned with how John Ware lived his life.

“Val should also feel extremely proud of the role she has played in being a true trailblazer for current and aspiring female pharmacists. She has shown that with persistence and a true ethos in helping others anything can be achieved.

“The Symbion Lifetime Achievement Award is wonderful recognition of John and Val’s lifelong contribution to pharmacy, and I could not think of two more worthy recipients.”

Congratulations to Valerie and John, the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award winners.

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