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A lifelong dedication to service and education

Sister Helen Clifton Merrin has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division for her outstanding contributions to special needs education and the Catholic Church in Australia. Her extensive career shows a deep dedication to service and community.

Sister Helen became blind as an adult, and subsequently developed a significant hearing impairment. She now uses cochlear implants in both ears. Sister Helen learnt braille, participated in Vision Australia’s adult braille reading group, and continues to be a voracious braille reader using a refreshable braille display.;

Champion of special needs education

Since 1980, Sister Helen has been a vital part of St. Lucy’s Special School in Wahroonga, where she has served as a music teacher and chaplain. Her role as a board member since 1999 further highlights her dedication to the school and its students.

Devoted religious leader and advocate

A Dominican Sister of Eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands since 1965, Sister Helen has tirelessly advocated for people with disabilities, serving on the Australian Bishops Disability Advisory Council for nine years. Her recent participation as a speaker at the Health and Wellbeing Seminar in 2023 highlights her ongoing influence and dedication.

Educator and mentor

Beyond St. Lucy’s, Sister Helen has taught braille at the Royal Blind Society, now known as Vision Australia, has and worked at the Prouille School in Wahroonga. Her teaching career has been marked by a dedication to nurturing and empowering students. 

Leadership in L’Arche Australia

Sister Helen’s leadership roles within L’Arche Australia, including as Regional Coordinator and Chairperson of the Solidarity Group, demonstrate her commitment to creating inclusive communities for people with disabilities.

Recognition of excellence

Her numerous accolades, which include the State Medal for TAFE NSW Academic Achievement in 2000, truly highlight her lifelong pursuit of excellence and service.

Sister Helen Clifton Merrin's OAM recognition honours her exceptional influence on education, faith, and community. Her legacy is one of true kindness and unwavering dedication.