From an old garage in the shell-torn Gaza Strip, Jean Calder has built one of the world's most admired programs for helping disabled, disadvantaged and war-traumatised people.
For 25 years Jean, 68, has put her life on the line in her work with disabled people in Lebanon, Egypt and the Palestinian State.
Her passionate desire to make a difference took her from a successful career in rehabilitation and physical education in Australia into a civil war, working with refugees as they faced massacres and continual fighting.
Today, Jean is Director of Rehabilitation at the Al-Amal City Centre of Ability Development, with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, and regarded worldwide as one of the most eminent leaders in her field. Her commitment, outstanding humanitarian values and care for the welfare of disabled people are making a profound difference to the lives of many in the Palestinian State and are admired throughout the Middle East and in her home country of Australia.
'I'm Australian and proud to be,' Jean says. 'I'm also just as proud to be standing beside the Palestinians. I think the fact that I'm a foreigner here... they feel it's moral support. They're not alone in the world.'
For inspirational humanitarian service in the Middle East, leadership and commitment to international relations and academic and professional training in rehabilitation, Jean received Australia's highest civil honour in the Order of Australia, the Companion in 2005. Appointments as Companions in the General Division recognise eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree.