Like each of our past thirty years at HG this year has been no different in the sense we have had the privilege of partnering with organisations across Australia and New Zealand to “Find and Grow Great Leaders”.

With a widening client base across public and private health, primary and community care as well those I would describe as social (human) service providers it means we have a series of moments of being immersed in the daily life of these organisations.

It is a privilege to observe their challenges and opportunities, the times when things have not gone so well and their far more considerable moments of success. Success in the sense of great care, treatment and outcomes for the diverse communities they serve, wherever they may sit across that broad continuum of health promotion, early intervention all the way through to acute tertiary and emergency services.

Earlier this year I wrote of my firsthand experience of exceptional care and treatment, being upright one day, having major surgery the next followed by a slow and steady recovery over many months. I went from being an observer to participant and count myself lucky at the strength of our healthcare system and capability of its people.

Last week I was working in New Zealand at the time of the eruption of Whakaari/White Island off the coast of Whakatane, a place I know well given it is my hometown and where I spent the first twenty years of my life.

A day of adventure in a heartbeat tragically changed individuals and families lives forever. In that time of tragedy stories trickled out of emergency and healthcare workers turning up in droves on rostered days off, the regional burns specialist on maternity leave turning up with her baby in arms ready to scrub up for surgery, steady cultural and community support to bring some comfort to the victims families.

The stories go on but they are not stories of heroism. They are stories about people who care deeply, doing whatever they can and doing what’s right every day and night of the week – all the way across that broad spectrum of health and human service provision.

As this year comes to a close my team and I pay tribute to our systems leaders throughout New Zealand and Australia and to their remarkable teams and organisations.