In this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours, more than a 1000 Australians have received acknowledgment for their tireless contributions to Australian society. Among the award winners are prominent members of Australia’s LGBTQI community as well persons who have contributed to HIV research.

Those awarded include Melbourne-based LGBTQI and disability activist Jax Jacki Brown, HIV nurse practitioner Elizabeth Anne Crock, infectious diseases physician Associate Professor Edwina Wright, Thorne Harbour Health president and founder of the Pride Community Legal Service Janet Jukes, Rainbow Families Victoria co-founder Felicity Marlowe, radio presenter and LGBTQI+ activist Misty Farquhar and ballet dancer David McAllister.

Forty Per Cent Award Recipients Are Women

In a first for Queen’s Birthday Honours, this year’s list also included the highest number of women being awarded, with forty-four per cent of the recipients being women.

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Governor-General David Hurley in announcing the list, said that this year’s awards were filled with diversity.

“On behalf of all Australians, congratulations to all recipients. Each of these individuals are unique and their story deserves to be shared widely and celebrated.

“Collectively, they speak to who we are as a nation. There are countless examples of selflessness, commitment and dedication. There is diversity and there are examples of exceptional achievement in almost every field imaginable.”

“It is important that the Order of Australia represents the diversity and strength of Australia – for this to happen we need to ensure outstanding women, members of our multicultural community and First Nations people are nominated by their peers in the community.”

Queer Disability Rights Activist Recognised

One Victorian who received an OAM is Melbourne-based LGBTQI and disability activist Jax Jacki Brown. Awarded a Medal in the General Division for their service to people with disability. Jax who has fought tirelessly for years for the rights of LGBTQI people and those living with a disability told Star Observer, “While I feel like it’s nice to receive recognition of my work, I do believe Australia as a nation is built on the genocide of Indigenous people and so to receive an award that legitimises the founding of Australia as a nation, as an activist that makes me feel really conflicted and uncomfortable as well.”

Jax adds that “Of course knowing the history of the award and that a lot of right-wing people also get nominated for their work and perspective which are the anthesis of what my work is, also makes me feel strange about it as well.”

“I would like it to no longer be tied to the idea of Australia as a nation, and to make sure there was a diverse array of judges from the diversity of minorities.”

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Jax has had their work published in Junkee, ABC’s Ramp Up and Archer Magazine: The Australian Journal for Sexual Diversity among many other outlets. Alongside their writing Jax is well known in Melbourne as a spoken-word performer, and co-producer of Quippings Disability Unleashed, a disability performance troupe in Melbourne.

Controversy Over Award To Peta Credlin

Of course, it wouldn’t be the Queen’s Birthday Honours without some form of controversy. As far back as 2000 when Margate Court was awarded an OAM for her tennis career, conversations have surrounded some of the awards more dubious nominations.

Earlier this year, Court was promoted from an Officer of the Order of Australia to a Companion. The promotion, sparked outrage with a number of previous recipients returning their awards in protest, including Canberra Doctor Clara Tuck Meng Soo, who told media at the time, “I do not want to be seen as supporting the values that the Council for the Order of Australia seem to be supporting with this promotion of Mrs Margaret Court.”

This year was no expectation, with Jax pointing squarely at Peta Credlin being made an Officer in the General Division of the awards, in recognition for her ‘distinguished service to parliament and politics, to policy development, and to the executive function of government’.

Jax said that they believe such nominations are “really problematic”.

“It’s really highlighting perspective and voices that are not advancing human rights and diversity in Australian society. I wonder about the judging process and it having to be seen to be advancing people from the supposed left as well as the conservative right and putting forward nominations that spread across that political perspective.”

“It has to be seen as unbiased, but by doing that it’s not really advancing human rights, its actually given a platform to people with really problematic ideas and perspectives.

PLHIV and HIV Medicine

For her service to nursing, particularly to people living with HIV/AIDS, Dr Elizabeth Anne Crock was also recognized on the honours list. Having begun work in the field of HIV in the early 1990s as an HIV Clinical Nurse Specialist at Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital in Melbourne, Cook has gone on to serve on the board of the Australian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), and is the current President of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Nurses in AIDS Care (ANZANAC), where she has been a board member of the organisation since 1995.

Associate Professor Edwina Wright, an infectious diseases physician who specialises in HIV medicine and HIV clinical research in the Department of Infectious Diseases, Alfred Hospital, Monash Central Clinical School, was also recognised for her longstanding involvement in responding to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

As the current president of Thorne Harbour Health and recent founder of the Pride Community Legal Service, Janet Jukes also received a nomination for her outstanding service to the community through LGBTIQ advocacy and social welfare organisations. Janet also serves as CEO of Relationship Matters and has done so since 2014, during which time she has expanded the organisation’s services in family counselling and parenting supports, family violence prevention, intercountry adoption and mental health.

Rainbow Families

Another notable award recipient was Felicity Marlowe, who in 2004, launched the ‘Love Makes A Family’ campaign. In 2016, Marlowe co-founded Rainbow Families Victoria and became Executive Director of the organisation in 2017. Marlowe was awarded an OAM in recognition of her services to the community through social welfare organisations.

“It’s a bit special (if not a bit weird) to wake up with an OAM. So, I thought I’d tell a bit of a story and say some thank you’s to mark the occasion.”

“For me personally, this award is a tribute to all those rainbow families who over many decades have bravely stood up, joined together and loudly and proudly said: we’re here, we have kids and we’re not going away!” Marlowe posted on social media.

“The movement for legal and social change for rainbow families of the past 20 years started well before my partner Sarah and I met or considered having our own children. Trailblazing LGBTIQ people have stood up for their own and their children’s rights for decades. Our histories are all interwoven and equally important.”

“Congratulations also to my fellow LGBTIQ OAMs today, including Janet Jukes and Jax Jackie Brown. You are both amazing and well deserving of your awards.”

One of the top honours, the Companion of the Order of Australian went to Out gay former artistic director and former principal dancer of The Australian Ballet David McAllister.

McAllister received the award for “eminent service to the performing arts, particularly to ballet both nationally and internationally, to artistic directorship and dance education, and as a mentor”.

Radio presenter and activist Misty Farquhar was awarded the Medal in the General Division (OAM) for their services to the LGBTQI+ community.

 

 

 

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