Community Spirit Shines in Australia Day Awards
26 January 2016 at 12:01 am
Philanthropists have been recognised for their valuable contributions to the Australian community, taking out top awards as part of the Australia Day 2016 Honours List.
Dr Susan Alberti, Allan Myers QC and Maria Myers were all made Companions of the Order of Australia (AC), for their philanthropic and fundraising support.
Three of only 10 people to win the highest honour available to Australians since the titles of Knighthood and Dame were discontinued, the prominent advocates all had their Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) titles promoted to AC.
Dr Alberti was recognised for her service to the community, particularly through philanthropic and fundraising support for a range of medical research, education and sporting organisations, as an advocate for improved health care services for the disadvantaged, and to young women as a role model and mentor.
The co-founder and Managing Director of the DANSU Group and Vice President of the Western Bulldogs AFL Club, Alberti is Chair of the Susan Alberti Medical Research Foundation and the former national president of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Australia.
She founded the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes in Australia in 1992, which has since raised over $40 million.
She is also a former member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International Board – the first Australian ever elected to this position in the history of the organisation, and has a medical wing named in her honour at the International Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.
Allan and Maria Myers are prolific supporters of the University of Melbourne, having contributed one of the most significant lifetime pledges ever received by the University from individual donors – $10 million.
Maria Myers has also been Chair of the Kimberley Foundation Australia, which promotes the advancement of understanding of the history and cultural significance of Rock Art in the Kimberley Region in Western Australia, since 2009.
Allan Myers is the former president of the National Gallery of Victoria, to which he has made significant financial contributions.
The Governor-General and Chancellor of the Order of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove, approved the awards.
“To all recipients, I offer my warmest congratulations and express my sincere gratitude for your contribution to our nation,” the Governor-General said.
“We are fortunate as a community to have so many outstanding people willing to dedicate themselves to the betterment of our nation and it is only fitting that they have today been recognised through the Australian honours system.
“Since 1975 these awards have drawn national attention to the personal efforts of individuals, made willingly, without thought of recognition or recompense.”
The honours list recognised a diverse range of contributions, including philanthropy, professional endeavours and community service.
“Today’s recipients now join the company of more than 40,000 women and men whose actions have enriched our community and whose values we hold dear – compassion, dedication, generosity, selflessness, tolerance, and energetic ambition,” Sir Cosgrove said.
“For over 40 years these honours have helped to define, encourage and reinforce our national aspirations and ideals by acknowledging exceptional Australians. Today, we add a new group of names to those we should all admire.
“On behalf of all Australians, I thank them for their contributions. They are a source of courage, support and inspiration, and we are a stronger, safer and more caring nation because of them.”
Philanthropists, advocates and Not for Profit leaders were also among the 604 recipients of the general division of the Order of Australia.
Former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick was recognised for her contributions to human rights, and the prevention of violence against women and children.
Graham Ford received the accolade for his roles in the surf lifesaving community, which included President of Surf Life Saving Australia, Director of the Surf Life Saving Australia Foundation and President of the International Life Saving Federation.
Scott Didier, Chair of Star Ball, the Starlight Foundation’s fundraising gala, Diana Abdel-Rhaman, President of Australian Muslim Voice, Robyn Cotterell-Jones, CEO of VOCAL Inc, Sharyn Mackenzie, co-founder of SCARF and Tonya McCusker from the McCusker Charitable Foundation all received the award.
Patrons of the arts, David Walsh, who established MONA, and Judith Neilson, who owns White Rabbit Gallery and recently committed $32 million to create another gallery in Sydney, were both honoured for their philanthropic contributions.
Media personalities also made the list – Lisa Wilkinson for her service to youth and women’s health groups, and Melissa Doyle for her representational roles with a range of charitable groups.