Vale (Frederick) John Richards OAM

The La Trobe University community is deeply saddened to hear that (Frederick) John Richards OAM, a generous supporter of La Trobe University and people who live in rural and regional communities, died on 28 April 2023.

John was a former jackaroo, conscript, farmer, and newsagent. He made very significant contributions to the community in northern Victoria and held a number of positions in local health and community organisations.

John was the inaugural president of the Yarrawonga District Health Service board of management and a member of the Rural and Regional Council of the Victorian Healthcare Association.

He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Moira Healthcare Alliance, a not-for-profit organisation based in Yarrawonga that provides home and community care services in Moira Shire and the surrounding communities.

John had a vision to support ageing in country Victoria.

His generosity supported the establishment of the John Richards Initiative at La Trobe University’s Albury-Wodonga campus in 2007.

In 2018, following a period of significant growth, the Initiative became an independent Centre within the La Trobe Rural Health School and was renamed the John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research.

The Centre is now a global leader in rural ageing and aged care research.

We were privileged to hold a celebration with John and friends of the Centre last year to recognise the 15th anniversary of the John Richards Initiative.

John was recognised with several honours throughout his life. He was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2007 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 was Yarrawonga Citizen of the Year in 2004 and, in 2005, he received the Rural Health Volunteers Award from the Victorian Department of Human Services.

In 2015 John was awarded Doctor of Science (honoris causa) by La Trobe University.

La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar AO, said that John was known for being a gentle person who was generous and determined.

“John will be greatly missed by the La Trobe University community, especially staff at the John Richards Centre and colleagues across our Albury-Wodonga campus,” Professor Dewar said.

“Many of us will cherish the memory of speaking with John a fortnight ago at the Albury-Wodonga campus graduation ceremony. John leaves behind a remarkable legacy that will endure for many years to come. The University will honour his memory in the continued work of the John Richards Centre and our determination to fulfil John’s vision that philanthropy can make a difference and improve the lives of older rural Australians.”

Media contact: Claire Bowers:, 0437 279 903