Outstanding ACT pharmacists recognised!

Friday 10th December 2021


Last night at the ACT Pharmacy Awards ceremony, held at the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s (PSA) head office in Canberra, outstanding achievement across the Territory was recognised.


PSA’s ACT Branch President, Renae Beardmore, presented awards for Intern Pharmacist of the Year, Early Career Pharmacist of the Year, Pharmacist of the Year and the Lifetime Achievement Award.


“Since the pandemic began, Canberra had been relatively sheltered from the full brunt of this deadly disease, causing comparatively minimal disruption to our daily lives. Then, as expected, the Delta variant found its way to the Territory.


“In the face of adversity caused by changes to primary care delivery, ACT pharmacists rose to the challenge brilliantly – going above and beyond for their patients and the wider community.


“The awards recognise outstanding achievers for their contribution throughout 2021, highlighting the incredible talent that we have across the pharmacy profession.


“Whether it be developing and empowering the staff around them, demonstrating working collaboratively within healthcare teams, providing support and education to the next generation of pharmacists or improving medicine safety holistically – this year’s winners have exemplified pharmacy practice.


“I congratulate them on their success and thank them for their commitment to our profession and the ACT at large,” Ms Beardmore said.


This year’s award winners are as follows:

  • Samantha Forge: Intern Pharmacist of the Year
  • Brooke Veasey: Early Career Pharmacist of the Year
  • Chris Lawler: Pharmacist of the Year
  • Dr Gabrielle Cooper OAM: Lifetime Achievement Award



PSA congratulates this year’s award winners and thanks them for their service to pharmacy in the Australian Capital Territory.


Award winner profiles below.


Samantha Forge: PSA ACT Intern Pharmacist of the Year


Samantha has accomplished a great deal despite undertaking her internship in the middle of a pandemic. We all witnessed the relentless pace of change seen in just a short period. She took on this challenge with determination and leadership, using the opportunity to train, develop and empower the staff around her.


She also took on a role in managing the pharmacy’s mental health clients from the local clinic, including supporting a fortnightly clozapine clinic. Under her leadership, a collaborative model of care thrived, fostered by a collegiate approach to care from the entire team of healthcare professionals involved. This led to improvements in the safe and appropriate use of medicines for some of the area’s most vulnerable patients.


With a keen interest in drug formulary inventory management, this was used to refine the team’s ordering protocol and improve the accessibility of medicines for her patients despite the ongoing challenges of serious medicine shortages.


Brooked Veasey: PSA ACT Early Career Pharmacist of the Year


Brooke stepped up to take on the responsibility for all intern pharmacists and pharmacy students across their pharmacy group, including 11 sites in both the ACT and NSW.


As part of this, this she single-handedly set up an internal intern training course of sorts to run in parallel and complimentary to the formal intern training program. This included organising internal lectures from specialist interest pharmacists and matching up the interns with various pharmacists for practice oral exams – where she prepared the all of the content. This process has fostered a great sense of connection between interns across the group, enabling them to learn from the wider group and not only rely solely on their individual preceptor.


Brooke has also joined forces with a colleague in one of the NSW pharmacies and together they have taken responsibility for driving professional pharmacy services. This includes supporting all pharmacists across the group with weekly teleconferences, providing the opportunity to share and troubleshoot common issues as they arose, and to celebrate wins. This has been a big job, particularly with the enormous task of scaling the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, yet, she has owned this task with poise and confidence.


Chris Lawler: PSA ACT Pharmacist of the Year


Chris is one of ACT pharmacy’s quiet achievers.


He provides care and support to some of the most vulnerable people in the community, including patients accessing opioid dependency treatment and those with HIV and Hepatitis C. He has developed important clinical and patient networks and is a trusted and respected proponent of the essential role that pharmacists play in the delivery of primary care.


Chris and his team provide daily support to over 100 patients on opioid dependency treatment. He has a calm, kind and approachable manner which allows them to cultivate rapport that supports continuity of care, leading to both better patient outcomes and reduced risk of abuse, misuse and diversion of opioids in the broader community. He has also been working with the Canberra Alliance for Harm Minimisation and Advocacy and Directions ACT for many years, mitigating the risk of overdose by providing naloxone to patients.


He also provides a safe place supporting patients seeking treatment or prevention of HIV and Hepatitis C. He also works closely with the local general practice, and together with local prescribers has built an effective collaborative care model which ensures that support and treatments are provided to patients in a safe and non-judgmental environment.


Dr Gabrielle Cooper OAM: PSA ACT Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr Cooper has demonstrated a relentless and career-long commitment to the pharmacy profession since she graduated from the University of Tasmania in 1983. After completing her internship, she commenced her career as a clinical pharmacist in Hobart, before spending almost a decade in clinical pharmacy at the Royal Canberra Hospital, St Vincent’s Hospital, Hospital for Sick Children in London and the University of Tasmania as a clinical educator.


Returning to Canberra in 1995, she was appointed as the Director of Pharmacy at John James Memorial Hospital. In the years to follow she was a Poisons Information Pharmacist at The Canberra Hospital and subsequently became the Director of Pharmacy at Calvary Hospital between 2002 and 2003.


It was during her years as a hospital pharmacist that she became well known as a motivating and inspirational teacher. She could demonstrate and instill a range of attributes including sound clinical knowledge, a passion for disease state management, problem solving, leadership, and effective communication skills.


Her interest in drug overdose led her to undertake a PhD in clinical toxicology. Her seminal work has been widely cited and led to changes in clinical practice such that activated charcoal in drug overdose is now used in more restricted situations.


Following a critical shortage of pharmacists in Canberra and the surrounding region, she transitioned from clinical practice to academia and in 2003 she established the Discipline of Pharmacy at the University of Canberra, where she remained the Head of Pharmacy and was promoted to Full Professor in 2010. She understood the value students obtain from clinical placement and was successful in securing funding to allow pharmacy students to undertake placements in what was then a novel environment – general practice.


In her ‘spare time’ she was also highly engaged with the profession at the local level with involvement in the PSA ACT Branch as its initial President in 2009 where she remained on the Branch Committee until 2016, serving as both ACT Branch President (twice), and as a National Board Director from 2011 to 2013.


Her contribution to the profession locally was also highlighted by her appointment to the ACT Pharmacy Board in 2006 until the formation of the National Pharmacy Board in 2010.


She was elected as Chair of the Capital Health Network in 2015, and during this time her highly regarded networking and communication skills led to the establishment of the Pharmacists in General Practice trial in the ACT.


And last but certainly not least, her remarkable contributions were recognised in 2017 when she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for “service to the pharmacy sector and to tertiary education”.


Her elegant ability to articulate logically has made her a positive role model to students, pharmacists, healthcare workers, and policy makers alike.



Media contact: PSA media 0424 777 463