Susan Ash's passion for helping the less fortunate began as a child.
"Being aware of injustice and underprivilege - that always sat very poorly with me," the newly appointed Officer in the general division of the Order of Australia said.
"I couldn't understand how people who had so much potential could end up not being able to be both valued in a community and have the opportunities that I had.
"That's not to say I came from a privileged background but I did came from a family where people were valued and where there was a very strong Christian ethos."
At school, a career counsellor suggested Ms Ash do social work and for the UnitingCare West chief executive and former WA Council of Social Service boss the rest was history.
She said her industry was largely about giving people an opportunity "and the vast majority of people will take it".
"I try to work with people and help them find resources and solve problems," Ms Ash said.