‘To me, it’s not a job’: Mum named Home Instead Australia’s CAREGiver of 2023

Julianne Tombleson, caregiver for Home Instead Sydney Eastern Suburbs and Sutherland Shire, has been named in-home aged care provider Home Instead Australia’s CAREGiver of the Year for 2023.

Awarded at a gala event in Sydney, Julianne said she was honoured to win among an incredible field of finalists.

“To me it’s not a job, it’s a commitment to my clients. We lift them up when they are feeling down, we care for them, ensure they and their environment are safe, and support them through changes in health and life, through grief and bereavement, and always empowering them to live their best life in the manner they want to. What a privilege that is,” the mother of four, from Woolooware, said.

I treat all my clients like my family. One of the greatest moments is being told ‘you are now a big part of our family’, and the gratitude you receive after caring for their loved ones, particularly through end-of-life care.

Caring can be enormously rewarding and somewhat challenging, it can make you shed a tear, and bring some very funny moments. It is the most fulfilling role."

"This is my best achievement."

From introducing a book-loving client with failing eyesight to audiobooks, to discovering a couple’s passion for diverse cuisine, devising a meal plan and running cooking classes to help keep their freezer stocked, Julianne goes above and beyond in her role with every interaction in the five years since she took up the role.

“Julianne is the kind of caregiver you dream of having in your team because she is the perfect balance of practicality, sensibility, diplomacy, warmth, sociability, and genuine kindness,” Home Instead Sydney Eastern Suburbs and Sutherland Shire People Experience Manager, Tanya Ward, said.

With a background in hospitality and as a flight attendant for Ansett – until the day they closed – Julianne has always gravitated towards work that helps others.

“Since joining us almost five years ago she has cared for a broad mix of clients from different backgrounds with different degrees of care needs. She has been a treasured caregiver to all because of her dedication to getting to know them as individuals, to empowering them in their own care in even the smallest but meaningful of ways and to treating them all with dignity and respect,” Tanya said.

“She is always looking for ways to bring something special into her client’s days.”

This includes Julianne’s continued care of a man after his wife passed.

 “She helps to fill his time when he is by himself and bring some joy into his days. As his eyes are deteriorating, making reading more challenging, she has introduced him to audio books and is always on the lookout for new things for him to listen to” Tanya said.

The CAREGiver of the Year Award is in its 14th year.

“Our CAREGivers are at the heart of everything we do. They are the cornerstone of the connections we form with our clients, and we will continue to support them in creating and maintaining authentic and respectful relationships that allow people to live independently in their own homes,” Home Instead CEO Kris Whitehead said.

We are incredibly proud of the contribution each of our 4000 caregivers make within the community around Australia. And we are excited to recognise the incredible work of those who have gone above and beyond in their roles in 2023.

The four finalists for the 2023 CAREGiver of the Year award were: Julianne Tombleson (NSW); Kenneth Penaluna (Vic); Nicole Morton (Qld); and Michelle Allison (WA). As well as the national recognition, the winner received a trophy, certificate and gift voucher to the value of $1,000.

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A special thanks to our contributors

Antonia Norris

Researcher and Contributor

Antonia has led the operations and growth of the agedcare101.com.au and villages.com.au within the DCM Group in Australia and New Zealand for several years. This has included the research and creation agedcare101 in 2016, the creation of the DCM Institute and Te Ara Institute, the joint contribution of Care & Living with Mercer (CaLM) and the TV series, The Best 30 Years, screened on NINE nationally.



Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the Villages.com.au and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, villages.com.au and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.