Kaye Graves' magnanimous disposition dates back to the 1970s, when she embarked on a career in nursing.
A few years working in general nursing in Melbourne peaked Ms Graves' curiosity about what can be done beyond the hospital setting to increase the community's health and wellbeing.
"Instead of fixing people in the hospital, I wanted to know they had a safe place to go, a warm house, food and a comfortable life," Ms Graves said.
Since commencing a Graduate Diploma in Community Health in 1991 at La Trobe University, Ms Graves hasn't looked back.
Initially working as a community health nurse, the self described 'change agent' has had a lasting impact in the community throughout her lengthy career so far.
Bendigo's Humanitarian Settlement Program welcomed its first family almost 10 years ago, with hundreds of people from a refugee background for settling locally since and is hailed as one of Ms Graves' biggest career achievements.
"People don't want to feel like a refugee forever."
"They might be Karen and born in Burma, but they live in Bendigo and are Bendigonians now," Ms Graves said.
Bendigo Community Health Services has been the backbone of the local HSP, building from one program to 14 different programs for the refugee community since its inception.
"We estimate that we have up to 2,500 Karen, 300 Afghan and an increasing number of African and South Sudanese people in Bendigo," Ms Graves said.
A key of Bendigo Community Health Services' settlement program is to aid rapid community integration.
"The main aim of settlement is to build self reliance, so that people can fully and actively participate in all aspects of community, business and working life," Ms Graves said.
Educating the wider community has been part of aiding this transition, with local cultural intelligence increasing since the first family for resettlement arrived on July 7, 2010.
"If someone has never met a Muslim or Karen person before, there is no understanding," Ms Graves said.
"At Bendigo Community Health Services, we make a big effort help volunteers, schools, businesses and service clubs to understand refugee people."
Maintaining faith and traditions is shown to facilitate a smooth settlement process according to Ms Graves, and is something BCHS has helped facilitate.
"I remember the first Afghan New Year. It was the first time these people heard their national anthem in Australia and could hang their flag," Ms Graves said.
Bendigo's welcoming acceptance of people from a refugee background is paid back in the contributions these people have made in the community.
"I have seen in 10 years the growth in young people that are going to university and being involved in sports," Ms Graves said.
"Our refugee folk are buying houses, they've got small businesses, a Karen grocery store, our first Afghan caterer and Karen mechanic.
"These people are leaders of tomorrow and for them, from having a life of complete deprivation, they want to thrive," she said.
Working with people who have suffered trauma has become an inadvertent specialty area for Ms Graves, with BCHS integral in setting up Bendigo's Bushfire Recovery Centre after the devastating 2009 bushfires that ravaged this region.
"There was no blueprint for that work in the early days. Bendigo never experienced anything like it," Ms Graves said.
Bushfire case management staff worked for two years and commenced work the day after the fires raged.
"It taught me a lot.
"When people walk into the recovery centre, they've lost their glasses, their dentures and don't have identification," Ms Graves said.
Liaising with local businesses, Ms Graves and her team helped people gain access to pro bono dentures, glasses and clothes, among other essentials.
"Many of those people were not service users and to accept help wasn't natural," Ms Graves said.
Her work is punctuated by the help she and BCHS receives from volunteers and service clubs.
"All these connections help people to integrate into our city. It is all about providing opportunities and touchpoints, so people can build bonds," Ms Graves said.
One such opportunity came as part of the recently implemented Developing and Understanding Islam program.
The sessions demystify the Islamic faith for community members and have produced promising results.
"There was a gentleman who came to a session with his arms crossed at the beginning," Ms Graves said.
"At the end, he said 'thank you. This session has completely changed my mindset about Islam'.
"That is the golden moment for me. When I go about my work designing these programs, getting funding and then seeing results," she said.
A small farm and vineyard where Ms Graves and her husband grow grapes has been adopted as her weekend project, a second career.
It is her work in the community sector that remains Ms Graves' passion and one she doesn't have plans to let go of anytime soon.
"I've got the best job in the world," the change agent said.