Gay Aussies and allies honoured
Newly announced 2013 Australian of the Year, Ita Buttrose, was one of a number of LGBTI community members and allies to have been recognised for their good works and contribution to Australian society in the Australia Day Honours List.
Buttrose, a media icon who kick-started her long and storied career as a 15-year-old copy girl at the Australian Women’s Weekly, was acknowledged by Prime Minister Julia Gillard at a ceremony in Canberra for her trailblazing career as well as her continued willingness to champion serious social and health issues such as HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, prostate cancer and breast cancer.
Accepting the award, Buttrose (pictured) said she would use the ensuing publicity to advocate for more positive approaches to ageing as well as an end to “ageist attitudes”.
“This is one of the proudest moments of my life and I’m truly honoured,” she said.
“If during my year I can contribute to a achieving a more positive attitude to ageing, delivering on Alzheimer’s Australia's fight dementia campaign and putting the spotlight on medical research, I will feel I have in some small way lived up to the honour that has been given to me today.”
Buttrose, who at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s served as chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on AIDS (NACAIDS) from 1984 until 1988, said the largely successful approach to halting the spread of HIV in Australia showed a clear path forward on how best to approach syndromes such as dementia.
“We can remove the stigma and sense of shame that comes with a diagnosis if we increase community understanding of dementia, provide better-quality care and give hope to the future by research,” she said.
Also named in the annual Honours List was Paul Dyer, co-founder and artistic director of the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Brandenburg Choir. Made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “distinguished service to the performing arts”, Dyer said the accolade meant a lot considering the orchestra was created from scratch in 1990.
“Today, 24 years later, I proudly take to the stage with talented and highly skilled early music musicians – both orchestral players and choral singers - who are amongst the finest in the world,” he said.
“We enjoy a place in the heart of many Australians through our concerts and recordings and that is something for which I am very grateful.”
Meanwhile, Trevor Robinson, the founder of the Queensland branch of the Gay & Lesbian Immigration Task Force (GLITF), was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to human rights, particularly as an advocate for the gay and lesbian community. Robinson has been at the helm of Queensland’s GLITF since 1995.
Recently retired South Australian Labor politician, Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, was also made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to Parliament and the community. Lomax-Smith, who served as Adelaide Lord Mayor as well as in SA Parliament for almost ten years, has long been considered a strong ally of the state’s local LGBTI community.