Judges' Posthumous Award

Paul Karras, Founder of Hunterlink Recovery Services

Paul Karras worked in welfare services for 20 years, specialising in substance abuse, mental health, and homelessness and advocating for those that could not advocate for themselves. Paul was a clinical member of the Australian Counselling Association which is where his true passion was nurtured. Paul was a man who always put the needs of others before himself. If there was one word used to describe Paul it would be loyal. He was loyal to his family, his friends and encompassing all of that, his work.

Some people go through life struggling for help, looking for guidance and just needing a compassionate ear to listen- that person for so many people in Australia was Paul. No one, not even Paul would have known the number of people he had helped over his career, one
would assume it would be in the thousands. The drive and the passion that Paul had for helping people is the reason why Hunterlink Recovery Services is the Maritimes leading Employee Assistance Program. Hunterlink was established as a response to the need for
support, recovery and welfare within the maritime industry. Through the support of union, employers and community, Hunterlink has expanded since its inception in 2010 to become a 24-hour provider of services, not just for local seafarers but also international seafarers visiting Australian waters. Paul was the founding CEO of Hunterlink and incorporated many programs into the maritime industry which are changing the way employers support their employees. A highlight of Paul's career was establishing a 24 hour national service where seafarers could call night or day and be instantly connected to a professional counsellor. A key component of the service is that family members of the seafarer are welcome to use this service as well. One of the main issues an international seafarer can face is isolation and loneliness.

Paul was diagnosed with liver cancer in February this year which resulted in a progressive illness that cut his life short on the 3rd of May 2015 at 63 years of age. It  goes without saying that Paul's legacy will continue through the Hunterlink Team to ensure every international seafarer has adequate support in accessing medical services, mental health support and the means to communicate when necessary.


Gav Kelso, Programme Manager at Hunterlink Recovery Services, accepted the award in honour of Paul Karras.