The initiative is named in honour of John Richards, 2007 recipient of the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for 'service to the community of the Moira Shire, particularly as a contributor to health sector development, and to the newsagency industry through the Victorian Authorised Newsagents Association.'
John Richards, a former jackaroo, soldier and farmer, was the inaugural president of the Yarrawonga District Health Service board of management, and from there was instrumental in the establishment of the Moira Healthcare Alliance. He was President of the Alliance from 2002 to 2005, and remains on the board.
Among numerous health and community related positions, he was also a member of the Rural and Regional Council of the Victorian Healthcare Association from 2001 to 2006. In recognition of his active community involvement he was named Yarrawonga Citizen of the Year in 2004 and received the Rural Health Volunteers Award, Hume Region, from the Department of Human Services Victoria in 2005.
John Richards' vision to support ageing in country Victoria has been backed by a generous donation which has enabled the establishment of the Research Initiative into Ageing and Aged Care in Rural and Regional Communities at the La Trobe University Albury-Wodonga Campus.
Professor Jeni Warburton commenced as the Chair of the JRI in 2008, and in early 2016, the JRI appointed Associate Professor Irene Blackberry as its Director.