A total of 895 Australians who have risen to the top of their fields in sports, science, performing arts and media have been recognised in this year’s Australia Day Honours List for 2018.
While male athletes usually dominate the headlines, this year’s Honours List recognises some of Australia’s most well-known female athletes from a range of sports.
Australia Day Honours List level of award
- Companion of the Order (AC)
- Officer of the Order (AO)
- Member of the Order (AM)
- Medal of the Order (OAM)
But despite this, women still only make up one-third of all recipients.
Here is what some of the recipients had to say.
While male athletes usually dominate the headlines, this year’s Australia Day Honours List recognises our female athletes.
The late Betty Cuthbert (AC)
Australia’s “golden girl” Betty Cuthbert has been posthumously awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia.
She became Australia’s first triple Olympic gold medallist as an 18-year-old after winning the 100 and 200 metre sprints and being a member of the victorious 4×100-metre relay team at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
Cuthbert died last year, aged 79, after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.
As well as her on-track achievements, she has also been honoured for being a role model, fundraiser, and advocate for research into a cure for MS.
Evonne Goolagong-Cawley (AC)
Tennis legend Evonne Goolagong-Cawley has also been recognised with the nation’s highest honour for her sporting achievements and her role as an Indigenous youth health advocate.
Goolagong-Cawley won seven Grand Slam titles in her career, including four Australian Open titles.
Through her work at the Evonne Goolagong Foundation she encourages Indigenous children to get involved in tennis, to promote better health, education and employment.
Liz Ellis (AO)
Former Australian captain Liz Ellis is receiving an Office of the Order of Australia for her outstanding netball career — which included two Commonwealth Games gold medals and three World Championships.
She said she is proud to see women’s sport move to the forefront.
“To be a part of that movement that has now seen women’s sport move from the periphery now to front and centre, it’s incredibly satisfying to see that happen,” Ellis said.
“I feel really grateful that I’ve got the opportunity to be part of that movement and that moment.
“I’m not satisfied though, I want to see more happen.
“I want to get to the point where we talk about sport and not ‘women’s sport’.”
Shane Gould (AM)
Shane Gould was a shy 15-year-old when she won three gold medals at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
She’s being honoured for her service to swimming and to creating water safety programs in developing countries.
“When you see someone really struggling to manage the water and then it’s like they have a revelation, when a person whether they’re an adult or a child finally understands the water holds me up if I interact with it,” she said.
“To me that’s the ants pants.”
Susie O’Neill (AM)
Dubbed “Madame Butterfly” for her dominance in the pool, Susie O’Neill now has another title to add to her name.
She has received an AM for service to swimming and charity work.
“It’s a very proud moment to become a Member of the Order,” she said.
“To see my name on the list with the other names, people who have achieved and given so much, it will take some time for me to digest.”
Karrie Webb (AO)
As Australia’s most successful professional female golfer, Karrie Webb is used to accolades, but said being honoured with an AO came as a shock.
“I was thrilled a few years back when I became a member of the Order of Australia and I don’t think it’s something that you think you’re going to climb the ladder on,” Webb said.
“They’re such prestigious awards and the fact that my career and the things I’ve done in golf are so highly thought of that I would receive this recognition is really a thrill and an honour.”
Lucette Aldous (AC)
Lucette Aldous taught ballet to generations of young people, following a career which started in the 1950s and saw her dance with the Royal Ballet in London and as a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet.
At 79, she fondly remembers filming a version of Don Quixote together with Russian great Rudolf Nureyev in a hangar of the old Essendon airport in the early 1970s, and remembers Nureyev as being very generous, and humorous.
“It was sort of a personal contact, but one never over stepped his genius,” she said.
“At one stage, I had to learn a very difficult solo and he said, ‘OK, I sit and play my favourite piece of [Sergei] Prokofiev. Get on with it.
“I stood in the wings one time and I said, ‘You should open a ballet school just for ballerinas … I’ve learned so much’.
“The generosity, the knowledge that he had.”
Dr Mukesh Haikerwal (AC)
Dr Mukesh Haikerwal suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was attacked by three men with a baseball bat in a Melbourne park in 2008.
He has been recognised for his work as an advocate for mental health and accessible health care.
Despite the attack, he has a measured opinion on how best to tackle youth crime in Victoria.
“I think we’ve got to deal with the facts and the stats,” he said.
“And try not to politicise it because ultimately that causes pain at the time and causes less cohesion in our society in the future.”
Professor Trevor McDougall (AC)
Doctor Trevor McDougall is recognised as a leading world authority on ocean mixing.
His work focuses on discovering what role the ocean plays in climate change.
“It’s very easy to mix things horizontally and very hard vertically and what I’ve done is to really change the way the world thinks about that and how we model it in models of the climate,” he said.
Professor Creswell Eastman (AO)
Professor Creswell Eastman’s transformative work in iodine deficiency disorders in China led to him being dubbed, “the man who saved a million brains”.
He’s now working with pregnant Indigenous women in the Northern Territory who are iodine deficient to try to lower rates of intellectual disability.
“If we’re ever going to close the gap we have to concentrate on the first 1,000 days of life,” he said.
“Because that’s when your brain develops, that’s when most development occurs and if you don’t get it right then you’re not going to catch up later.”
Dr Jenny Martin (AC)
Doctor Jenny Martin has been working for decades to tackle what has been described as one of the biggest threats to global health — antibiotic resistance.
“We found that if we could knock out this particular machinery we could actually stop bacteria from causing disease,” Dr Martin said.
“Now we’re looking for drugs that can have the same effect.
“We’re in the early stages of that but we have some promising results.”
Tracey Spicer (AM)
Tracey Spicer has worked in the Australian media landscape for almost 30 years as a news reader and journalist.
She has been recognised for her excellence in broadcast, for being an author, her journalism work and for her advocacy work with a number of charities.
“I’m absolutely honoured and humbled to receive this award and I’d like to dedicate it to the now more than 1,000 women that have come forward courageously to talk about their stories as part of the MeToo movement,” she said.
Trevor Weatherhead (AM)
Trevor Weatherhead got his first beehive in 1972 and quickly turned a hobby into a career.
The executive director of the Australian Honey Bee Council hopes the accolade will shine a light on the importance of the honey bee industry.
“It’s not one of those that’s out in the limelight, yet it’s a very crucial industry for a lot of our Australian produce in particular,” he said.
“It’s been estimated between $4 billion and $6 billion worth of agriculture and horticultural crops rely on honey bees.
“The most notable ones are things like almonds, if you don’t have bees you don’t get an almond.
“Watermelons, pumpkins, rockmelons, no bees, no crop there.”
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