Colleen Mandicos says it was an experience at an early age that eventually led to her desire to make a difference.
"When I was ten, we lived in Wollongong and we sold our house to a Greek family," the 73-year-old said.
"I can remember some of our neighbours not being happy that we sold it to Greek people, because they thought it was going to bring the standard of the neighbourhood down.
"They had a five-year-old daughter, and because they'd only been in Australia for about six months, the daughter had to do all the interpreting for the family to purchase that house."
She said while this experience may not have entirely resonated back then, by her teens it had helped create an interest in "multicultural services, migrants and people having to move from one country to another to establish themselves".
She has since had a variety of paid and volunteer roles within aged care and multicultural services.
The Wollongong resident has been awarded an OAM for service to aged welfare.
Her roles have included with not-for-profit aged care and retirement services provider Multicultural Aged Care Illawarra, where she's been a director since 1989.
She's been chair of the Illawarra Multicultural Village Hostel Group since 1997, and executive manager of the Multicultural Communities Council of the Illawarra in the 1990s.
"I realised I was accepting the honour on behalf of everybody that's worked for the Multicultural Village, which is the prime reason I'm getting it," she said of the honour.
"It was acknowledgement of everybody's effort to make sure that facility runs really well."
She said a satisfying aspect of the Multicultural Village was its philosophy that "this is people's homes, and we're there to assist them to live in that home".
"They weren't there to fit in with our rules, we were there to make sure they could continue to enjoy the lifestyle that they were used to, as much as possible," she said.
"We see ourselves as a small, boutique aged care facility. We never wanted to be a big provider. We're nearly 100 beds now, and that's about as big as we want to be."
Mrs Mandicos' other roles have included as executive manager of aged and disability services at Catholic Care Wollongong; and a board member of the Illawarra Area Health Service.
In disability services, she was a member of the management committee at Interchange Illawarra for 15 years, and previously a member of the Committee for People with a Disability, Catholic Diocese of Wollongong.