The embodiment of ‘impact through empathy’

AVC Brisbane Professor Jim Nyland.

A message from Associate Vice-Chancellor Queensland, Professor Jim Nyland: Next week ACU honours Sr Angela Mary Doyle AO through the conferment of the Award Honorary Doctorate at the ACU Brisbane Graduation Ceremony.

I hope you are able to attend and meet her in person.  If not, then settle for second best by reading this short bio of our newest recruit, a truly remarkable woman who, for those who may be struggling with the term, is the embodiment of ‘impact through empathy.’

Born in Ireland and relocating to Australia 70 years ago, Sister Angela Mary Doyle has made an impact on the health and wellbeing of people in Brisbane and well beyond.

In addition to her strong sense of justice, Sister Angela Mary is recognised for her unwavering passion, devotion and continued commitment, even in retirement, to the work of the Mater Hospital in Brisbane and health care as a whole.

Her professional journey is characterised by a question she frequently asked herself: “How can I help?” That compassionate question led her to pioneer the establishment of care for people suffering from HIV/AIDS. Despite the fear and uncertainty that shrouded the virus in the 1980s, Sister Angela Mary took the initiative, stepping in to work with the Queensland AIDS Council to personally help individuals suffering from the disease. Looking back, she says: “As a Sister of Mercy, I can’t stay silent.” Her interactions with patients led to friendships and spoke volumes to her caring nature.

That characteristic determination to fight for others is an ongoing theme throughout Sister Angela’s distinguished career, which is highlighted by honours including Queenslander of the Year in 1989 and the Australian Achiever Award from the Prime Minister in 1990.

Continuing to nurture community relations through her work, Sister Angela Mary played a leading role in caring for those in need. When an influx of people from Taiwan arrived in Brisbane around 25 years ago, Sister Angela Mary learned of the plight of a sick mother who was caring for several children while the father continued to work in Taiwan to pay their expenses. Since the woman did not speak English, Sister Angela Mary enrolled in a TAFE course to learn Mandarin in order to communicate with the family, who she also connected with a specialist at the Mater Hospital. The Taiwanese Minister of Foreign Affairs presented Sister Angela Mary with the Friend of Foreign Service Medal in 2007 for her notable commitment to the community. Though rusty, she accepted the award in Mandarin.

An administrator at the Mater Hospital for 22 years, Sister Angela Mary also served as the Senior Director of Health Services for the Mater Complex until 1993. She filled the role of Executive Director of the Mater Hospitals’ Trust until 1997 and was a Board Member until 2003. The Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame inducted her as a member in 2009.

The list of accolades earned throughout her long-running career includes the awarding of an Order of Australia (AO) for service to the community in 1993, the Queensland Premier’s Millennium Award for Excellence in Charity/Welfare in 2000, and the Premier’s Queensland Greats Award in 2001. She is also the author of a memoir, Mercy, Mater and Me.

Beyond her significant contributions to the Mater Hospital, Sister Angela Mary has demonstrated her commitment to serving the common good for decades. In addition to fostering relationships with the Taiwanese community in Brisbane, she has contributed to the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu-Chi Foundation and taken an ongoing interest in advocating for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health and welfare.

A perpetual student, Sister Angela Mary says: “My life has been one of constant learning.” Reflecting the Catholic intellectual tradition, Sister Angela’s lifelong devotion to service and learning has made a tangible impact on countless lives near and far.

Sister Angela Mary Doyle AO is ninety-one years young and a role model for us all.


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