Celebrating a Werribee philanthropist

Get to know local business leader and Chair of the St Vincent’s Werribee Private Hospital Committee Oriano Salvalaggio.  

Born and raised in Werribee, Oriano Salvalaggio (known as Ori) is a passionate and active member of the Wyndham community. Spanning an area larger than Geelong and experiencing dramatic population growth, Ori is proud of Wyndham’s strong sense of community. “When I walk my dog, Charlie, I spend half the time stopping to chat to people. I love that’s there’s still such a sense of belonging.”

Ori is committed to developing programs and services that will improve his local area. His interests include the arts, environment, sport and health. Ori is a member of the Werribee River Association which is dedicated to protecting the river and its environment. He’s also supported several council projects. He has been a key supporter of the Wyndham arts program and is a long-time sponsor of the Werribee football and soccer clubs.

In 2015, when the idea to build the first private hospital in Werribee was floated, it made sense that Ori should be involved. His commitment quickly evolved from being a founding member to becoming the Chair of the St Vincent’s Werribee Private Hospital Committee.

A long-term commitment to St Vincent’s
Even before committing to the Werribee Hospital Committee, Ori and his family had firmly established an enduring commitment to St Vincent’s Hospital.

“My children were born at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Fitzroy but my connections go back even further. Some of my siblings were born at St Vincent’s and many of my family members have been cared for in Fitzroy.

“When my father was diagnosed with a brain tumour, we had no hesitation taking him to St Vincent’s where he received wonderful care. I’ll never forget how incredible the nurses were. After my dad’s first brain operation, the words of one particular nurse will stay with me forever. She said, ‘quality of life and time is what’s important now.’

“Looking back, after dad had endured four brain operations in 12 months, I realised just how insightful her advice was.” 

St Vincent’s literally became part of his family when his cousin married Dr John Gurry, the then Head of the Vascular Surgery Unit at St Vincent’s and a past Chairman of the Board of St Vincent’s Health Australia.

PHOTO: Ori with his wife Michelle. 

An instant dedication to a new hospital
Ori said he was very excited when he found out a St Vincent’s hospital was coming to Werribee because it meant the quality of healthcare in Wyndham would be lifted to new heights. “It’s always been my goal to see the quality of Werribee services meet the standard that has previously only been available in the city.”

At the time, the CEO of St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Ian Grisold, invited Ori to join a committee to fundraise for the Werribee hospital. It wasn’t long before he was ‘dobbed in’ to become the Chair of the Committee.
“The previous chairperson didn’t live locally. He could see that the people on the committee needed to be connected to the community.

“I didn’t hesitate to become involved. This new hospital meant a significant, positive change was finally coming to our region that would benefit everyone. It needed to be supported.”

“This is the first genuine private hospital facility to open in the Western suburbs. With 17 in the eastern suburbs, it was well overdue! I’m a firm believer that private hospitals do increase health standards.”

Ori’s goal was to create a committee filled with local people passionate about helping their community. The Committee has since attracted a selection of key players in Werribee’s business community, including Pam Lamaro (hotel owner and non-executive director), Anthony Rebesco (founder and Managing Director of Ecosmart Group) and more recently, Adrian Williams (Managing Director at Godings in Rockbank and Geelong).

“Pam continues to be a great asset. Anthony is inspired to drive improvements within Wyndham and Adrian is helping to raise awareness of the project to a new, younger audience.

“We are all inspired by the Sisters of Charity and their passion to build something great from virtually nothing.

“I remember when we first started holding events to raise funds to build the hospital. All we had were pictures of what it would look like, but people quickly fell in love with the promise that great healthcare was coming to Werribee. They supported the project because they could see what we were creating and how it would benefit them and their families.”

Photo: Werribee Committee Members left to right: Anthony Rebesco, Pam Lamaro, Oriano Salvalaggio (Chair) and Adrian Williams.

A bright, exciting future
The Committee have maintained a vested interest in improving hospital facilities.

“The job certainly isn’t finished. Now that the hospital is built, we’re focused on not only adding to the collection of new medical equipment but also attracting the best medical specialists to the area.”

Local fundraising has purchased a new cardiac machine that places St Vincent’s Werribee at the forefront of heart care. Attention is now being directed to bringing the latest orthopaedic technology, a Mako Robot, to Werribee.

This revolutionary technology enables orthopaedic surgeons to better tailor hip and knee replacements to their patients, involves smaller incisions and reduces recovery time after surgery.

“The Mako Robot will help the Committee to realise a dream to provide the level of quality services we currently have to travel to the city to access. We also recognise that the latest technology is the best way to attract the most talented clinicians and surgeons to Werribee.”

Donate today to help bring the Mako Robot to Werribee. 

PHOTO: The Mako Robot 

A man of many talents
Ori has no less than 10 businesses in his portfolio, spanning accounting, financial planning, lending, property development and investment and a nursing agency. He’s also a part-owner of two hotels, a café and restaurant that his son runs.

He thrives on meeting people from all different walks of life and is renowned for being calm in a crisis.

“I reckon I should have been a fireman instead of an accountant. In my line of work, clients experience many financial crises but I enjoy problem solving to put out the fires.”

With all his success, some people are surprised at just how down to earth Ori is. “There’s a perception because of my many roles that I’m hard to get access to. But I’ll always take the time to talk to people on any level. That’s one of my ongoing tasks – to regularly meet every staff member to check in and give them a pep talk.”

In his limited down time, Ori enjoys playing tennis, swimming and, in his words, “golf to a certain degree”. When he was younger, he was a passionate football and cricket player.

The key ingredient to happiness
Ori is fiercely devoted to his family. He believes family is the key ingredient to achieving happiness. He feels fortunate to have always been close to his parents, brothers, sisters and cousins.

“In the early days we had a youth club at the Werribee Italian Social Club. This created deep connections within the Italian community.”

Ori believes becoming a parent shifted his values. “You go from doing everything for yourself to everything you do is for them.” He’s proud of the strong relationship he’s managed to maintain with all his children. Ori is also enjoying being a grandfather to Hazel (3) and Henley (1). “I get on well with my children, we have a strong bond. We often play tennis or golf or catch up for a meal.”

Maintaining links to his heritage remains important to Ori. Italian families are often known for tomato sauce and salami and Ori’s family is no exception.

“We still come together to make tomato sauce and salami every year. We make it a weekend event. All my brothers and sisters and most of the children have roles to play. There are usually at least 15 or 16 in attendance, with mum running the show. “The adults are focused on trying to pass on the knowledge so our kids can carry on these traditions.

PHOTO: Ori with his beloved dog, Charlie. 

We are building our own story
Ori is proud of how far Werribee has come over the past decade, but there’s one thing he never wants to change. “I never want us to lose our sense of community.” He is excited about what the future holds for St Vincent’s Werribee.

“We are building our own story. We want to continue lifting the quality of healthcare in Wyndham. But one thing is for sure, the St Vincent’s Werribee story will always remain true to focusing on family and community.”

Learn more about St Vincent's Private Hospital Werribee.

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