Pharmacy of the year

Be a part of the most rewarding awards in community pharmacy

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Pharmacy of the Year awards are the undisputed benchmark for recognising excellence in the community pharmacy industry. The awards aim to seek out highly motivated, innovative and adaptable pharmacy businesses that never sit still and strive to provide further health care to support their community.

We are very pleased to announce that nominations for the 2022 competition will open on 9 June 2021.

The 2022 Guild Pharmacy of the Year is an initiative of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, sponsored by principal sponsor Care Pharmaceuticals.

Past Pharmacy of the Year winners

Each year the winning Guild Pharmacy of the Year awards videos are published here.

2022 Finalists

The six finalists in the 2022 Pharmacy of the Year awards have been announced.

Winners will be announced at the 2022 APP Conference, held on 24-27 March 2022 at the Gold Coast Convention Centre.

At Cooleman Court Pharmacy in the ACT, they are confident they have found the essence of community pharmacy.

The team from Cooleman Court Pharmacy - Weston ACTIt’s been a challenging road which has seen the pharmacy redefine itself.

Proprietor Brad Butt explains that in 2018 the pharmacy undertook a complete refit which saw its footprint reduce from 360sq m to 260sq m.

“We did this in an effort to cleanse our pharmacy of all non-pharmacy lines such as make up, bags, shoes, perfume and so on,” he said.

“The aim was to create a health destination; nothing more, nothing less. We are in the business of healthcare.

“This was the start of a long-awaited transformation which then, also involved the building and solidification of a strong professional team supported by a strong team of pharmacy assistants and dispensing technicians.”

The result, Mr Butt believes, reflects that what the community wants, is much more than general fare.

“They want healthcare, health information, signature categories, reliable medication supply, kind, affable and engaged staff and beyond all else ‘community’ - they want to support the people who support them, those who are open during the pandemic, open during fires, open greater hours, careful with their health, engaged in wellbeing, a fast and reliable delivery service, opening an account, advancing them a script or a few dollars when times are tight.

“And isn’t this the true essence of community pharmacy?”

Mr Butt said the refit gave the pharmacy two dedicated consult rooms, a dedicated and discrete opioid replacement therapy space, stock drop room and a large professional service space, affectionally known in pre -COVID-19 times, as ‘the dance floor’.

The installation of a dispensary robot completed the project which has ensured optimal workflows so “we could better serve the patients and make our workplace an employee friendly space”.

As a health destination, the pharmacy introduced new, or refined and updated existing professional services, and the pharmacy now boasts services including:

  • A heart health rehabilitation program
  • Doubling the number of ORT patients on its program
  • Complete launch of Men’s Health services
  • Trial of Pharmibridge mental health services
  • A centre of excellence in continence care
  • Specialised wound care services
  • Sleep aponea services
  • Expansion of vaccination and injection services
  • Offsite influenza vaccination services to many local business and aged care facilities
  • Training of other pharmacists in the men’s health space to implement services in their pharmacies.

Mr Butt says it’s the staff who are the essential key to success in the transformed pharmacy.

And it’s the staff who Mr Butt says are the essential key to success.

Co-managing partner Brooke Veasey said getting the right people was vital.

“More and more, pharmacy employees are wanting to be involved in projects, to have ownership and to take on responsibility,” she said.

“When harnessed and directed it can take the load off other key staff, allowing them to blossom in other areas and everyone wins.

“At Cooleman Court Pharmacy we’ve invested in getting certain key staff first aid accredited, mental health first aid trained, trained on managing the dispensing robot, upskilled into different roles in the pharmacy to give our team greater depth and future proof our operations.

“We’ve also involved staff in offsite vaccination and beyond anything else ensuring that they have a variety of training available to allow them to continue upskilling and become more comfortable managing more and more of the patients’ requests.

“While a lot of this is targeted at pharmacy assistants, dispensing technicians and junior staff, there has also been an effort to make sure we have invested in our pharmacist team through training, conferences, the ability to explore their passions and implement different initiatives (such as Brooke’s cardiac rehab program and Chloe’s opioid replacement therapy support program Pharmetrics).

“This also helps our pharmacy to become a destination of health, and this is what we’re hoping will future proof our business; be a point of difference; make us a destination and one-stop healthcare pharmacy.”

Mr Butt said the pharmacy was well-known in the community for its charity and community work but COVID had limited these activities.

“But with the cessation of so many of the community events we traditionally put on, we’ve pivoted to meet the community’s needs.

“We now offer a substantial business-to-business offsite vaccination program for numerous local businesses (large and small and all over Canberra); we do home vaccinations for patients that can’t, won’t or feel unsafe leaving home; and we’ve expanded delivery services to ensure that patients are kept safe at home.

“We’ve also continued some of our most valuable and rewarding community initiatives including the men’s health conference and patient forum and our involvement in the Cooleman Court Heart Foundation Walking Group continues. This is not only great for our patients and community but also for our staff.”

The introduction of a Health Services Concierge role at Amcal Life Clinic Donnybrook Pharmacy WA has help strengthen the pharmacy’s focus on the delivery of health services, according to proprietor Rowan Lowe.

The team from Amcal Life Clinic Pharmacy - Donnybrook WA “The Health Services Concierge takes the administrative burden off our pharmacists, freeing them up for more clinical duties,” he said.

“It also ensures better continuity of care for patients and a seamless experience from enquiry, to service, to return visits – appointment bookings, follow-ups, check-ins and sharing information with GPs can all be activated through the Health Services Concierge role.

“We have also installed functional pods, allowing our pharmacists to be anchored forward and this gives better engagement with patients and screening for health services.”

Any issues with availability and access to healthcare services have the potential to deter patients. To combat this, Amcal Life Clinic Donnybrook Pharmacy WA has embraced the health hub concept.

Mr Lowe said it was important to address any problems for patients who may feel deterred in accessing healthcare services.

“We realised that what holds people back is availability and access – getting an appointment, travel, and navigating the health system.

“That’s why we embraced the Amcal Life Clinic ‘health hub’ format.

“What this means is that many of our services are always available, we offer walk-ins and Saturday availability and support with referrals and accessing funding.

“We realised many of our demographic weren’t regularly engaging with the healthcare system and were living with undiagnosed conditions.

“We found they were more likely to engage opportunistically with screening services offered at community events, so we have met this demand. We book appointments on-the-spot to maintain engagement.”

Mr Lowe said the point of difference with the pharmacy was service and the provision of sleep apnoea services was a good example.

“We now have people driving up to two hours to come here for our sleep apnoea services,” he said.

“We pride ourselves on not only giving expert advice but also the patient enjoys a seamless, end-to-end experience.

“With our service model, we utilise specialised team members and technology to regularly follow up with patients, providing ongoing support and care after the patient has left the pharmacy.”

The pharmacy now also has three clinic rooms which are fit-for-purpose with sinks, storage and the necessary clinical equipment.

“We pride ourselves on the provision of a wide range of services and this is really appreciated by our patients. As a result, we have seen services bookings rise to the extent that we now project more than 300 per cent growth in this area,” he said.

“It has also been made possible by us reducing our footprint of gift, beauty and ‘supermarket’ lines while increasing our range of advice-driven products and services such as therapeutic devices.

“But none of this is possible without our team.

“We are passionate about taking every opportunity to invest in our team – to ensure they are professionally and personally fulfilled at work.

“Our shift to a forward-pharmacist model has been made possible by upskilling and empowering our pharmacy and dispensary assistants to really own their spaces.

“They manage the majority of the non-clinical tasks in the pharmacy which allows our pharmacists to focus on clinical tasks.

“We invest time, money and energy in professional and personal learning and development opportunities.

“We also have fortnightly yoga and mindfulness sessions run instore before the workday begins and regular team dinners.

“Our new organisational structure includes specialised roles, and we recruit team members with experience and skill sets beyond ‘traditional’ community pharmacy to enrich our workplace.”

To help future-proof the pharmacy, Mr Lowe said it had embraced the whole-of-business transformation of the Amcal Life Clinic format which aligns with the Guilds’ Framework for Change recommendations.

“This has given us a profitable business model with a competitive advantage and the ability to further grow and adapt with future industry changes,” he said.

“This has seen us continue to offer a wide range of pharmacist-led health services including our sleep apnoea service while further growing our Diabetes Education service.

“We plan to introduce podiatry soon.

“We have strong two-way referrals with local practices and growing relationships with a wider network of GPs, allied health practitioners and specialists,” Mr Lowe said.

“We also attend multi-disciplinary group education and networking events.

“In addition to ensure we are future-proofing the pharmacy we are continuing to invest in ongoing team development and training and maintaining high staffing levels to allow us to embrace growth and development opportunities.”

Despite the pressures and challenges presented by the pandemic, Wizard Pharmacy Kalgoorlie Central says it’s hit on a formula which works for the pharmacy business and the patients it serves.

The team from Wizard Pharmacy - Kalgoorlie Central WA Proprietor Elise Wheadon said this involved teamwork and patient interaction.

“Even in the face of the most stressful year ever, we have managed to work cohesively as a team and grow by listening to our patients and delivering products and services they want,” she said.

“Combined with the teamwork is that customer service is the most important aspect of the business to ensure patients continue to return and new patients choose us as their preferred pharmacy.

“Being a country pharmacy, we know that the more you give, the more the community gives back.

“Great customer service directly correlates to increased sales and the continuation of learning and development of staff is key.

“And it bears fruit. This is reflected in the fact that we were nominated for Pharmacy of the Year by our patients, which shows how important we are to the local community.”

Ms Wheadon said the pharmacy was a key component in health delivery for the Goldfields region of Western Australia.

“We service Aboriginal health at Bega Garnbirringu based in Kalgoorlie, the people of Tjuntjunjarra at Spinifex Health located 600km from Kalgoorlie and through the hospitals at Laverton and Leonora and nursing post in Menzies,” she said.

“We are constantly working to provide first practice care and reward consumers for choosing us and be an easily accessible health provider to the community.”

The pharmacy is committed to ongoing interaction with patients to ensure the community gets the services it needs.

“In the pharmacy we interact with our patients using screening tools on our Healthpoint touchscreens” she said.

“We also provide ongoing support to patients and staff from Bega Garnbirringu, Leonora Hospital, Laverton Hospital, Menzies Nursing Post and Tjuntjuntjarra community.

“We conduct site visits for imprest reviews, coaching, education talks aiding in training of Aboriginal Health Workers.

“Also very popular, are our information sessions facilitated by pharmacists at nursing homes, the Women’s Health Care Centre and local gyms. Our weekly morning radio segment; Wizard Wellness Wednesday, Instagram posts, radio advertising and catalogues are other ways we increase the health literacy of our community.”

“We have learnt the more connections between health providers, the better outcomes for patients and the more effective and appropriate continuation of care can be engaged.

“We have a great focus on building strong alliances with organisations to potentially further our service offering.”

Maintaining the momentum is important and despite being 600km from Perth the pharmacy is committed to training and invests heavily as it sees this as a major component of future growth and success.

The store invested in creating a dedicated training room on site, alleviating travel restrictions resulting from Covid.  “Internally we use an online platform - WizzTraining developed by Wizard Pharmacy Services.  This provides consistent training across product, conditions and brand standards.

“We have introduced live sessions streamed through LMS learning platforms and increased use of webinars.  In monitoring customer service, we utilise a mystery shopper program each month.

“We have implemented a customer service program adapted for pharmacy called Customer Success, which was developed with retail consultants and Wizard Pharmacy Services.  The program aims to give staff more confidence in a selling environment to further increase dialogue with patients uncovering their needs and addressing them.  Offering best outcomes for the patient and their condition as well as providing potential increase to sales.”

Utilisation of culture surveys of the staff, and four-monthly performance appraisals are held to ensure staff are supported.

The pharmacy also embraces continual coaching of the leadership group to ensure they are on top of key KPIs, kept abreast of HR rules and have the ability to feedback ideas for future expansion. In addition, there are support visits every six weeks from Wizard Pharmacy Services.

Future proofing the pharmacy to build on the gains already made is an important aspect of the pharmacy’s business and it has a strong rewards program,  which coupled with partnerships, ensures it has a value proposition that matches its high level of customer service.

To gain further efficiencies within the business it has ordered a dispensing robot to be installed early next year.

“The purpose of this is to get our pharmacists front and centre with patients to utilise their skills and knowledge,” she said.

“We see automation as not only time saving for script processing but also giving us the ability to free up personnel in stock replenishment, out of date checks, merchandising and achieving better stock management.

“We are strongly committed to maintaining our existing relationships and developing new ones.

“In addition, we are constantly reviewing the products we keep, ensuring we fill any gaps that the community is experiencing, and our product range remains relevant.”

A goal to be the pharmacy of choice for the community but also the employer of choice for its staff, while also reducing the barriers people may have to accessing medications and pharmacy services, are the driving philosophies behind the ongoing growth of Blooms The Chemist Orange.

The team from Blooms the Chemist - Orange NSW Proprietor Melanie Moses said that within the past 12 to 24 months, the pharmacy had seen major growth and transformation.

“Our store underwent a major renovation and expansion in October 2019 that added two new consultation rooms to our pharmacy and saw our floorspace increase by an additional 80sqm,” she said.

“The renovation focused on driving sales growth in pharmacy specific categories such as sleep apnoea, and general medicines by increasing their floorspace and stock intensity.

“We continue to regularly review the return on floorspace in all our departments and review against stores in our network, using the data to further invest in strong performing categories and divest poor performers.

“It is our goal and commitment to be the pharmacy of choice for not just our community, but also the employer of choice for our people.”

Ms Moses said a focus on community needs had seen an expansion of its delivery service to seven days a week during the pandemic, while also offering expanded deliveries to communities and small townships within 50km of the pharmacy.

“During lockdown periods we find our deliveries exceed 50 per day and we have used scheduling and routing technology to help support this growing aspect of our business,” Ms Moses said.

And in line with its philosophy of ensuring patients have access to medications and pharmacy services, the pharmacy has gone out of its way to find innovative options to help patients.

“We have a very strong focus on disadvantaged patients – those in lower social economic groups and the homeless. We also have an emphasis on Aboriginal health and these things are a point of difference for us.” Ms Moses said.

“For instance, we have implemented several support options for our patients who are experiencing financial hardships by creating a compassionate loan scheme as well as offering Centrepay options.

“In addition to this we have recently collaborated with Housing Plus to implement the Medications for Homeless Persons Project.

“We work closely with Orange Aboriginal Medical Centre to deliver the QUMAX program to their patients and report compliance concerns regularly to their doctors.

“To help improve compliance we have also launched a Close the Gap Webster Pack program that covers the cost of essential vitamins which are not funded on the PBS.

“We also provide free sleep apnoea testing and diabetes educator consultations to their clients.”

In addition, other projects based at the pharmacy include:

  • Two of its pharmacists participating in a GP clinic program run by the Public Health Network
  • Ms Moses being recognised as Parkinson’s Support Group Hero
  • Assistance for police youth projects
  • Participation in Share the Dignity
  • Taking part in Relay for Life
  • NAIDOC week stalls for health checks

Co-proprietor Michael Macdonald said the pharmacy had an unshakable commitment to its staff.

“We knew 24 months ago that we could do more, and we did it,” he said.

“The journey began with a staff climate survey followed by performance reviews that now continue on a six-monthly basis.

“These reviews have ensured our team feel heard and valued, whilst allowing us to set professional goals together that better improve staff performance and working relationships.

“This investment has created a fun, positive and goal-orientated working environment that has benefited both staff and customers alike.”

Mr Macdonald said investing in a Retail Manager, Erin Long, in 2019 had been pivotal to the success of building a positive team culture.

“Erin came to us with a background in psychology and her motto ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ has been embraced by every team member in the business.

“Our other major investment has been in the appointment of Diabetes Educator and Pharmacist, Annika Rookyard, in October 2020.

“At present the number of patients requiring these services is greater than what is available through our local health facilities, and we see the provision of this service as an asset to our community while also increasing our business.

“To deliver on our goal of providing exceptional customer service and professional advice to our patients, the majority of our staff actively participate in Guild training courses to expand their skillset.”

Future proofing the business to ensure the investments are sustainable and the pharmacy continues to grow are critical to Blooms The Chemist Orange’s business plans.

Ms Moses said the main determinant to the pharmacy’s sustainability was the customer and therefore their needs were at the forefront of decision-making processes.

“Next comes supporting our staff through training and positive team culture to drive exceptional customer service,” she said.

“Future proofing for us involves a focus on drivers of customer loyalty to our business.”

A patient catchment area that covers regional, rural and remote areas presents challenges for any business, but for Karen Carter Chemist in Gunnedah it is just part of its daily operations.

The team from Karen Carter Chemist - Gunnedah NSW Proprietor Karen Carter explained that the pharmacy’s pharmacists travel to isolated and remote centres such as Bourke, Brewarrina, Walgett, Lightning Ridge, Collarenebri and Boggabri to conduct Residential Medication Management Reviews and Quality Use of Medicines reviews.

“This can be a 664km drive in one day, visiting two facilities or being flown in a two-seater plane to Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett. We employ additional pharmacists to allow me to deliver this service,” Ms Carter said.

“But this just part of our main priority which is to provide a full-service platform with enhanced services to engage our patients and community.

“Our health promotions involve the community from Biggest Morning Teas, walkathons and screening for chronic disease such as sleep apnoea. We are here for our community, if someone is alone at home and not feeling well we have had a staff member go and have a cup of tea with them.

“The shortage of GPs in town has allowed us to be a health hub, and our amazing pharmacy assistants interact with our community to allow us to deliver healthcare in a variety of forms.

“Being unable to automatically see a GP locally, patients seek advice on a variety of health issues which builds great trust, and they feel confident with the professional help they receive. Pharmacists visit patient homes to organise dose administration aids, provide assistance with CPAP therapy or a wound dressing.”

Ms Carter says it is the commitment to these and other services which highlights the pharmacy’s point of difference. New Mums can come and see our nurse Kate to have baby health checks and reassurance.

“We strive to go the extra mile to serve our patients, ensuring their health needs are fulfilled,” she said.

“This builds our team morale and ensures the business is a great environment for both our team and patients. We often evaluate what health services are not provided by allied health practitioners within the community and we will try to ensure this service can be provided in our pharmacy.

“Our monthly health promotions allow pharmacists to interact with patients, with examples such as asthma and inhaler technique.” We conduct cholesterol testing and monitor blood pressure.

Ms Carter believes the key to being able to continue providing such services and growing into the future is automation.

“Our profession is changing and in order to boost efficiencies and create a strategic point of differentiation in the long term, we have had to review our processes and automate as many of them as possible.

“An added bonus we have found is that having the level of automation we have introduced has made it easier for us to get pharmacists. They want to be on board with a pharmacy that has the latest developments and processes.”

Time is something everyone wants more of and automation has given us more time to implement services such as sleep health and wound care to benefit our patients. We always volunteer to be involved in new services which may benefit our patients in Gunnedah. This has led us to be involved in the Imerse (Indigenous medication review service) to address barriers such as lack of cultural appropriateness and work with clinicians and health workers to access review services, improve concordance and improve health outcomes in our first nations people. Recently we have been involved with improving health in patients with severe mental illness with the pharmibridge program

Ms Carter said the entire pharmacy team was engaged with the automation, as were patients. Working with my son Justin who is a pharmacist has helped bring automation to the pharmacy. Having a younger pharmacist with ideas on streamlining processes has allowed more time to deliver health solutions to our patients.

“Everyone loves it. As a pharmacist it frees up your time to be pharmacist rather than worrying about stock and getting things off shelves.

“We now have a forward pharmacy dispensing model and this means patients can see the pharmacist straight away. All our processes have been streamlined.”

Ms Carter pointed to the recent example of the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program.

“We streamlined our processes to ensure that the end-to-end customer vaccination experience is seamless,” she said.

“We had our entire team involved.

“Pharmacy assistants play a concierge role and enter patients’ details to the dispense software, then pass the patient to the pharmacist. The pharmacist speaks to the patient in our consult room, checks AIR and vaccinates the patient before the patient is passed back to the pharmacy assistant to book future appointments, enter data to GuildCare and supply vaccination records.

“The entire team was engaged and wholeheartedly supported the rollout and our pharmacists can attend more patients.

“Our three consulting rooms were all being used by our pharmacists in our Saturday ‘Vax-a-thon’ for COVID-19 vaccination.”

Ms Carter said another application of automation was the introduction of a dose administration aid packing robot.

She and her team keep abreast of developments also through tools such as social media and the internet.

With the increasing demand in online shopping, the pharmacy has revamped its social media accounts and website to facilitate e-commerce, education and health information; some of which include a Mums and Bubs online group, an Education Hub and Services page.

“This has allowed us to communicate more effectively in our town,” she said.

“Our daughter Wendy is an intern pharmacist in Sydney, and this ensures we are kept up to date across social media platforms and latest research.

“Having a different perspective on what services and information are posted allows a larger target audience.

“Patients have the convenience of shopping online and we can deliver locally, post orders, or customers can utilise click and collect.

Ms Carter said the pharmacy had been on a progressive journey to meet community needs.

“This commenced in a significant way when we remodelled our pharmacy layout several years ago to facilitate some of these changes,” she said

“We incorporated two additional counselling rooms to ensure we can accommodate our pharmacists to perform medication reviews, vaccination, sleep health and wound services.”

Constantly innovating and looking for new ways to provide services for the local community have been a winning formula for TerryWhite Chemmart Rosny Park in Tasmania.

The team from TerryWhite Chemmart - Rosny Park TAS Since purchasing the pharmacy in 2019, proprietor Helen Blake said the team has not stood still.

“We are always innovating and looking at what new things we can implement in the pharmacy,” she said.

“We assess what gaps there are in our community especially on the eastern shore in Hobart and listen to our customers.”

One such innovation has seen the pharmacy become the first pharmacy in Tasmania to be National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) accredited.

“The main NDIS supplier in Hobart closed its shop front during the initial breakout of COVID-19 in 2020 which meant there was nowhere for people to go and browse products available to them on the NDIS.

“Now anyone who utilises the NDIS can come into our pharmacy and browse items they may need or have a consultation with one of our pharmacists.

“It also has opened up the opportunity for people on the NDIS to potentially get their medications put in a dose administration aid under the NDIS.”

This is just one of the changes since purchasing the pharmacy in 2019.

“We have had two new consulting rooms built, giving us a total of three, and we have Allied Health Professionals (AHP) who offer appointments out of these rooms,” Ms Blake said.

“These AHPs include a dietician, diabetes educator, lactation consultants, sleep specialist, counsellor and continence nurse.

“For several of these services we supplement the cost to make the offer available for free or at a discounted rate for our customers.”

The pharmacy now also boasts a purpose-built compounding room which is a major area of growth.

“We also are in the process of becoming the first community pharmacy in Tasmania to be able to dispense medicinal cannabis,” she said.

“And one of the first services we implemented was the opioid replacement therapy program.

“We now have a private waiting area for these customers to make the service to them more discreet, which many of the customers appreciate.”

Increasing and targeting services has also given the pharmacy a deeper insight into community needs.

“From increasing the number of MedsChecks we found the increased conversations and care for people’s health has really improved our patient rapport,” she said.

“The AHP offering in our pharmacy has also grown our rapport with customers, bringing a lot more people from different areas to our pharmacy.

“From the conversations we have had we have been able to see where there are gaps in community pharmacy off erings in Hobart.

“This has been the driving factor in us becoming NDIS accredited, implementing the compounding room, introducing the opioid replacement therapy program and soon being able to dispense medicinal cannabis.

“We have spent time educating doctors on medicinal cannabis as the system is complicated and there is a stigma associated with the use of it. We want to help members of the community who may benefit from it.”

Keeping close to the community is a high priority for the pharmacy.

“We have done fundraising for community groups and have helped people in need including a young mother with two children who escaped a domestic violence situation, so we could help her with pharmacy needs such as medicines, head lice treatment and essential household needs.

“We have held fundraising barbecues and also had a Christmas barbecue to thank our customers for their support which was a great success.

“On Christmas Day we drove around to a few of our customers who we knew did not have family in Tasmania, or due to COVID were not going to get to see them, and took them a small gift and wished them a Merry Christmas.”

Ms Blake said having knowledgeable staff was also a key to keeping in touch with the community and staff education was a feature of the pharmacy.

“We regularly have team meetings, where we get different company reps or health professionals come in to help educate our team, increasing our knowledge and expertise in different areas.

“This is going to benefit our team through job satisfaction but also helps our community by ensuring we have knowledgeable staff members who can really help our customers.

“We also do team bonding sessions including dinners, visits to an escape room, bowling and so on to help grow the team spirit and let our team members know we appreciate what they do for us.”

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Page last updated on: 06 December 2021