For only the second time in the Australian Honours history, more women than men have been recognised in this year’s Australia Day list.
- More than 1,000 Australians have been recognised in the Australia Day 2024 honours list
- Famous TV presenters, doctors and disability advocates are featured
- It’s the second time in history more women than men have been recognised
Governor-General David Hurley said all recipients, including those from the fields of science, community service and the arts had made a profound contribution.
“Recipients come from all parts of the country. They have served and had an impact in just about every field you can imagine. Their stories and backgrounds are diverse,” he said.
“In my experience most are humble and often try to deflect attention or praise – please enjoy the moment because your country has decided that you deserve recognition.”
This year 1,042 Australians are recipients of the country’s highest honours, which includes 20 in the military division of the Order of Australia, 224 meritorious awards and 59 awards for distinguished and conspicuous service.
There are also 49 people who have been recognised for their contribution in support of Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Father (Bob) Robert John Maguire AM RFD
Late social justice campaigner Father Robert John Maguire has been recognised as an Officer of the Order of Australia for his distinguished service to the community.
Best known as Father Bob, the Catholic priest and media personality died in April last year after a life dedicated to standing up for the poor and marginalised.
Frank O’Connor, the director of the Father Bob Maguire Foundation, said it was “hard to know” how the late maverick priest would have responded to being awarded an AO.
“I think he would have been fairly chuffed,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Certainly the foundation and Father Bob’s family are absolutely delighted that his commitment to this sort of work is continuing to be recognised.”
Father Bob was ordained in 1960 and spent close to 40 years as a parish priest in Melbourne, leaving after a clash with the church hierarchy over the mandatory retirement age of 75 for priests.
He was allowed to remain a priest until age 77, retiring in 2012 after 50 years of service to the church.
Lorraine Ann Mazerolle AC
For eminent service to education, in her work as a criminologist, and for the development of evidence-based policing reforms, Lorraine Mazerolle has been a leader in her field.
She has worked extensively in research, policing, criminology and legal remedies both in Australia and the United States.
Professor Mazerolle said she was “honoured” to be a recipient of the Companion of the Order of Australia.
“It’s a recognition of a life working in criminology,” she said.
“This is a really significant award to me.”
When asked about her greatest achievements, Professor Mazerolle said she was “proud” of her work researching partnerships in policing and her PHD students.
David James Koch AM
David James Koch, better known as “Kochie” by the public, has been made a Member of the Order of Australia.
He has been recognised for his significant service to the media as a television presenter, and to economic journalism.
Koch trained as an accountant before beginning his career in journalism with a cadetship at The Australian followed by a stint with BRW magazine.
He continued working extensively in economic journalism, business and gave commentary for multiple publications in relation to business and finance.
He is best known for hosting Channel Seven’s morning program Sunrise, which he did for 21 years.
In that time, he said he’d done more than 5,300 shows, adding up to about 16,000 hours of live television.
Sandra Lee Sully AM
Sandra Sully is a recipient of the Member of the Order of Australia for her significant service to the media, to charitable organisations, and to the community.
Her journalism career began in the mid-1980s at the Seven Network in Brisbane.
After a stint at Prime in Canberra, she joined Network Ten’s Parliament House bureau in 1989.
She has worked for Channel 10 for more than three decades as a newsreader and reporter for Ten News First and The Late News.
She was the first Australian journalist to cover the September 11 attacks, one of the first at the scene of the Thredbo landslide, and has interviewed former US Vice President Al Gore and Douglas Wood, who was held hostage in Iraq before he was rescued.
Sully has also starred on numerous reality and game TV shows including The Masked Singer, I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! and Australia’s Brainiest.
Sully is a contributor to multiple charities.
She’s an Ambassador for National Adoption Awareness, Ambassador for the NSW Crime Stoppers, National Ambassador for Do Something and Co-Patron of Spinal Cure.
Lilian Margaret Ries OAM
At 100 years old, Lilian Ries is the oldest recipient of this year’s honours.
While most unwind in their 80’s, Ms Ries dedicated her twilight years volunteering with sick children and their families through the Ronald McDonald House Charity.
“I used to say to my husband, when they advertise in the paper for volunteers, I’m going to be the first one there, and I was the first one there,” she said.
“I was there for over 20 years just helping the families. It was great.”
The great grandmother of 12 said she never expected to win an award.
“Never in the world did I think I’d get anything like that.”
Fiona Melanie Wood AO
In Western Australia, prominent plastic-surgeon and 2005 Australian of the year Fiona Wood is receiving her second honours, this time as an Officer of The Order.
“It is extraordinary to be recognised by one’s peers and the community in this way. It really sort of takes your breath away,” she said.
“This is an award that is not just for me individually, it’s for the whole of the team and the extended team and what we’ve been able to do over a long period of time, so this is very special.”
Ms Wood’s “spray on skin” technology has been hailed as an “answered prayer” for burn victims.
Using the world-first technique, she managed to treat 28 patients in the aftermath of the Bali Bombings and greatly reduced their scarring.
Her work still helps burn victims decades after its inception, but she says some cases never leave her.
“It’s part of what we do is having the empathy to actually step along that journey with the patients and their families and carers as well.”
David Arley Squirrell OAM
In 2008, when David Squirrell lost his medical registration due to his disability, he turned his focus to advocacy. Since then, he has worked towards making various public spaces more accessible.
He is now the Vice-President of Deaf-Blind Australia and a passionate disability advocate.
Dr Squirrel is a recipient of the Medal of The Order Australia due to his work.
He said there’s still a lot of work to be done in the space, with bureaucracy creating barrier for many people with a disability.
“Bureaucrats sit in chairs, ticking boxes, they don’t look at the person. And every person is an individual,” he said.
“I believe we need to leave this world a better place. To leave it a better place, you have to understand what is wrong, and hence where you can make a difference so that other people’s lives can be enriched.”
Majida Abboud-Saab OAM
Majida Abboud-Saab was a founding staff member of the Special Broadcasting Station before it became known across the nation as SBS.
She was one of the initial volunteers participating in a three-month experiment in 1975 to broadcast settlement information in minority languages.
“Not everyone had a phone, but everyone had radio. Herein Australia, they would be…listen to information, settlement information in their own language,” she said.
Ms Saab went on to become the director of the SBS Arabic program, the most notable language program the public broadcaster ran for many years.
Her work brought Australian news to the Arabic community in the country which would have otherwise been inaccessible, in a time before the internet.
She said being the recipient of the Medal of The Order of Australia makes her proud to be Australian.
“It means to me that Australia has come of age and maturity to recognise the importance of multiculturalism and multilingual contribution to the country,” she said.
Larissa Tahireh Giddings AO
Former Tasmanian premier Larissa Tahireh Giddings has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia for her distinguished to the people and Parliament of Tasmania and the community.
In 1996, when Ms Giddings was just 23, she became the youngest women elected to an Australian parliament before eventually becoming the state’s first female premier in 2010.
She said she’s incredibly humbled and excited to receive the prestigious title.
“To be honest, I”m more thrilled for my Dad,” Ms Giddings said.
“[He’s] no longer with is, but he was a man who loved his medals, and had an Order of Australia medal himself. I know how much that meant to him, and just how proud he would be today to know that his daughter has [also] been provided with receiving this great honour.”
Bill Henson AO
Australian artist Bill Henson has been recognised for his distinguished service to visual arts and the promotion of Australian culture.
Henson, whose career began in the 1970s, is one of the country’s most prominent photographers and his works are held in galleries around Australia and the world.
Over the years his work has sparked controversy. In 2008, one of his exhibitions was closed and his images depicting nude child models were seized by police.
Reflecting on a career that has seen highs and lows, Henson said it had been fascinating to see how different people respond to his work depending on the time in history and their location.
Humbled by being made an Officer of the Order of Australia, Henson said he was pleased to see the visual arts recognised and that it raises the profile of artists who often work quietly on their own.
“It reflects the importance with which arts are regarded by other parts of our community,” he said.
“It unites people in a very profound way, art. And it’s not always a loud bang and it’s not always hit and run … it hits you in the face and then it’s over but there’s a much deeper and longer lasting effect that the arts have.”
Sophie Jessica Trevitt AM
Social justice advocate and solicitor Sophie Trevitt spent years fighting to keep First Nations children out of the criminal justice system, work she continued in spite of a brain tumour diagnosis.
The Canberran former executive director of Change the Record and ACT co-chair of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights died on 27 July 2023 at the age of 32, but not before leaving behind an incredible legacy.
Some of her notable achievements include spearheading the campaign to raise the age of criminal responsibility, creating exclusion zones around abortion clinics in the ACT, and the banning of spit hoods in the ACT.
“She just had this tenacity and stubbornness, pigheadedness you might say, when she saw something wrong – and then she fought to change it,” Ms Trevitt’s partner at the time of her death, Tom Swann, said.
“Even when she was sick, she kept fighting for what she believed in.
He said Ms Trevitt would be “honoured” to be recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia but “would only really want the attention to be on the work she was doing to keep kids out of prison and fight for justice, in particular for Aboriginal Australians.”
Bettina Danganbarr AM
Yolgnu woman Bettina Danganbarr, from Galiwin’ku in east Arnhem Land, is being recognised for her work as an Aboriginal community police officer.
She has been pivotal in bridging Yolgnu and balanda (non-indigenous) ways of life, and working with NT Police to create culturally appropriate support and responses to conflict.
“I get to share our culture, our knowledge, our language, with other fellow officers, and get to teach them how to approach our people,” she said.
“It’s helped repair some of the fractured relationships between Aboriginal communities in the Territory, and the Police.
She’s also a fierce advocate for women’s rights, and was instrumental in the creation of a women’s shelter in Galiwin’ku for victims of Domestic and Family violence. It’s something she said is her proudest achievement.
Being made a Member of the Order of Australia serves as motivation for Ms Danganbarr.
“To be recognised, it’s very empowering. Especially coming from a small community, sometimes we struggle. But these sort of things, they empower and motivate us to keep going.”
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