Outspoken entrepreneur, aviator and philanthropist Dick Smith, champion basketballer Lauren Jackson, actor Simon Burke, wine economist and poverty reduction advocate Professor Kym Anderson, former East Timor first lady Kirsty Sword Gusmao, and opera singers Peter Coleman-Wright and Cheryl Barker are among more than 700 Australians recognised for their service to the nation in the Queen’s birthday honours list, announced today.
Eight people were made Companions of the Order of Australia, including Anderson from Echunga in South Australia, for eminent service to higher education as a leading academic and researcher.
Dick Smith, already an AO, also received the nation’s major honour for his philanthropic work as a benefactor for a range of not-for-profit and conservation organisations, as well as support for major fundraising initiatives for humanitarian and social welfare programs, to medical research and the visual arts, and to aviation.
The others recognised with the AC are cancer researcher Professor Judith Clement, optometrist, researcher and academic Professor Nathan Efron, High Court judge Justice Patrick Keane, and liver transplant surgeon and researcher Professor Stephen Lynch, all from Queensland.
Victorian Supreme Court judge Justice Christopher Maxwell, and Professor Stephen Simpson from Sydney were also recognised, the latter for his work as an educator, researcher and author in the areas of human nutrition, obesity and metabolic disease.
Tellingly, there are no knights or dames in this round of honours, the first since prime minister Tony Abbott “captain’s pick” made Prince Philip a knight on Australia Day and he subsequently handed responsibility for any future decisions over to the Council for the Order of Australia.
Just over 500 people – 349 men and 170 women – were recognised in the general division of Order of Australia, with another 198 Australians receiving military, public service and emergency services awards.
Basketballer Lauren Jackson was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), not just for her sporting prowess but also for her efforts in working with sexual assault and domestic violence services. She is the patron of Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia.
Music was recognised with Aboriginal singer Archie Roach made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to the performing arts and social justice. Last month was the 25th anniversary of Roach’s remarkable first album, Charcoal Lane, which told the stories of the Stolen Generation in songs such as “Took the children away”.
Sydney husband and wife opera singers soprano Cheryl Barker and baritone Peter Coleman Wright were both made Officers of the Order of Australia (A0) for services to the performing arts.
Kirsty Sword Gusmao, who went from aid worker and resistance activist as East Timor fought for independence from Indonesia, to the new nation’s first lady when she married resistance leader and current prime minister Xanana Gusmao, was appointed an AO for her work to improve the island nation, as well as for furthering relations between Australia and East Timor.
Among the other well-known names on the honours list, actor Simon Burke, who was just 13 when he debuted in The Devil’s Playground, going on to a stellar career as a Playschool presenter, as well as being president of Actors Equity Australia, was also made an AO for his contribution to the performing arts.
The full list of Queen’s birthday honours recipients is here.
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