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Community Leaders Shine in 2019 Honours List

25 January 2019 at 10:01 pm
Wendy Williams
Charity leaders, disability advocates and unsung heroes have shone in the Australia Day 2019 Honours List, in a year that saw a record number of awards for outstanding service or achievement in the community.

Wendy Williams | 25 January 2019 at 10:01 pm


Community Leaders Shine in 2019 Honours List
25 January 2019 at 10:01 pm

Charity leaders, disability advocates and unsung heroes have shone in the Australia Day 2019 Honours List, in a year that saw a record number of awards for outstanding service or achievement in the community.

The governor-general and chancellor of the Order of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove, announced 1,400 awards – 1,127 in the General Division of the Order of Australia and 273 meritorious and military awards – making it the largest list since the order was established in 1975.

The Queen’s representative in Australia, who will retire at the end of March when his five-year term expires, said the recipients had made an “enormous contribution to their local communities and to the entire nation”.

“Today’s recipients come from right across the country and from all walks of life. While some are well-known, the majority are unsung heroes,” Cosgrove said.

“Their contributions are diverse yet there is a unifying theme: they have dedicated themselves to service. They have worked tirelessly for others, to improve local communities and to make Australia a better place.”

Social sector leaders Professor Rhonda Galbally AO, Cancer Council Australia CEO Dr Sanchia Aranda and OzHarvest founder and CEO Ronni Kahn were among those honoured in the list.

Galbally, who was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for her service to the advancement of social equity, particularly to the health and welfare of people with a disability, and to the community, told Pro Bono News she was thrilled with the honour.

“Because it is also honouring the thousands of people with disabilities, families, friends and services and those in the wider community who have for decades and decades supported disability rights. I see it on behalf of all of those thousands of people really,” Galbally said.

She said the honours were a good place to recognise the unsung heroes.

“I think there probably should be recognition all year round actually,” she said.

“Local councils have a big role to play and I know they do make awards, which I think are really valuable. To acknowledge people’s contribution and to encourage more is a really, really good idea.”

Other sector figures recognised this year included:

  • St Vincent’s Curran Foundation chair Richard Haddock AM;
  • NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner Graeme Head;
  • Guide Dogs Victoria CEO Karen Hayes;
  • Oxfam Australia chair Dennis Goldner;
  • Flourish Australia CEO Mark Orr;
  • Intellectual Disability Rights Service executive officer Janene Cootes;
  • former UnitingCare Australia chair Peter Bicknell;
  • Women’s Legal Service Queensland CEO Angela Lynch;
  • STREAT co-founder and CEO Rebecca (Bec) Scott;
  • NAIDOC Committee Co-Chair Anne Martin; and
  • Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia deputy chair Michael Reid.

Stephen Fitzgerald, a non-executive director for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, was also appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the investment management sector, to Australia-Europe business relations, and to cultural and environmental philanthropy.

Meanwhile, a number of philanthropists came out top.

Gandel Philanthropy co-founder Pauline Gandel, Sidney Myer Fund chair Carrillo Gantner AO and the late Stan Perron AM were made Companions of the Order of Australia.

Janet Limb, co-founder of the Limb Family Foundation, Roger Massy-Greene, of the Eureka Benevolent Foundation, Timothy Sims, a founder of the Australian Charities Fund Workplace Giving Program, Sally Browne, founder of The Sally Browne Fund, and Bennelong Foundation founder and chair Jeff Chapman were also recognised in this year’s honours.

Almost 46 per cent of this year’s awards were for outstanding service or achievement in the community.

Women received 37.4 per cent of awards, marking the highest number and percentage ever.

Cosgrove said it was great the upward trend of Australian women being acknowledged through the honours system was continuing to grow.

“We would all welcome higher recognition of wonderful Australian women,” he said.

It comes as Labor announced on Thursday that a Shorten Labor government would “modernise the nation’s honours system” to better recognise the contribution of Australian women and other underrepresented groups.

Since 1975, women have only received about 30 per cent of all awards in the Order of Australia’s General Division.

Shadow minister for women Tanya Plibersek said Labor would set a target to increase that to 40 per cent by 2020, “with the ultimate aim of having half of all awards going to women”.

“Women contribute as much as men, and our honours and awards should properly reflect that,” Plibersek said.

Galbally said it was easy to find women who deserved to be honoured.

“Most years I propose women. And I think it’s really valuable to aim for half and half, I think it’s proper for a country like Australia,” she said.

“Women make a huge contribution to Australian life and should be recognised.

“Women are the volunteers, they are out there doing the hard yards in the community work.”

Chairman of the Council of the Order of Australia, Shane Stone AC QC, said he encouraged all Australians to nominate fellow citizens who have made an outstanding contribution.

“It is an opportunity to say thanks, celebrate ‘quiet achievers’ and recognise those inspiring people who make our nation what it is,” Stone said.

He said the number and quality of the nominations was leading to more Australians being celebrated and recognised.

“It is important to appreciate that these outstanding individuals have been nominated by their peers – their hard-work, service and dedication have been noticed and is being recognised both locally and now through the Order of Australia,” he said.

Anyone can nominate any Australian for an award in the Order of Australia.

A full list of recipients is available at

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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  • Annemarie Rolls says:

    Dear Wendy,
    Lovely article about Community Leaders recognised in the Honours list for 2019 but it was a pity that your comprehensive list did not include Jillian Segal, awarded an AO, who is Chairman of the General Sir John Monash Foundation and who makes a huge contribution of time, expertise and funds to our Foundation along with numerous other philanthropic and community roles. You might be interested in the article in The Australian today by Helen Trinka to read more about her.
    Kind regards,

  • Wendy Williams says:

    Dear Annemarie,
    Thank you very much for your comment and congratulations to Jillian Segal. There were so many people who do wonderful work for this sector that were recognised in this year’s list I was not able to include all of the names, but I appreciate you bringing it to my attention.
    Kind regards,

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