More than 700 Australians have been recognised in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Some are well known with high public profiles in their respective fields of endeavour or interest.
But the majority are all but unknown outside their local communities. But it is there where they have given countless hours working behind the scenes.
By ALEXANDRA HUMPHRIES
SIXTEEN Tasmanians have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for outstanding service to their communities.
Notably, retired Lyons MHA Michael Polley has been named a Member of the Order of Australia for his work as the House of Assembly’s longest-serving speaker.
Former premier Paul Lennon and former Supreme Court justice Pierre Slicer have become Officers of the Order of Australia, while dedicated Launceston City Mission volunteer Mary Wakefield was able to accept her nomination for an Order of Australia Medal before she died earlier this year.
Premier Will Hodgman said he was pleased to congratulate all 16 Tasmanians who had been recognised.
‘‘The Tasmanians recognised today include those who have made contributions to the community in a wide variety of fields,’’ he said.
‘‘This year’s recipients include those from across the breadth of our community – from the public service, emergency services, health, sports, the arts, parliament, law, charity work and grassroots community service.
‘‘It is always particularly pleasing to see unsung Tasmanian heroes who have dedicated their lives to helping their community, and those in it who are less fortunate, recognised in this way.’’
►Lennon recognised for political contributions Former Premier Paul Lennon concedes many of the decisions he made while in power were far from popular, but says he is immensely proud of his achievements during 18 years in parliament.
►Polley humbled to receive award He was surprised, humbled and a little embarrassed, but Michael Polley said overall he was pleased to be recognised for his 18 years of service as Speaker in the House of Assembly.
►Thirty years of service recognised Sue Smith never planned for a career in state and local government which turned into three decades of service to the community.
By PATRICK BILLINGS
UNSURPRISINGLY, the Port Arthur massacre is something that stays in the mind of Tasmania Police's Commander Robert Bonde.
The 38-year veteran of the service, who was awarded the Australian Police Medal in today's honours, was tasked with speaking to witnesses and victims' families following the mass killing.
"The Port Arthur incident was the most significant in my mind and other officers' minds," Commander Bonde said. "It's certainly had an impact on me."
He later received a commendation for his work investigating the shootings.
Commander Bonde, who is from Ulverstone, joining the service in 1977 and became a Hobart constable the next year.
In 1982, he transferred to the North-West and served in Devonport and later Penguin. In 1984, he was promoted to first class constable and became a detective with the Burnie CIB. In 1991, he was promoted to sergeant in the Bellerive CIB before joining the Western Drug Investigation Branch, Surveillance Services and the Western Crime Management Unit. During that time he was acknowledged for his contribution to a number of complex and demanding operations.
In 2000, he made inspector, serving at Queenstown. He was seconded in 2010 to the Tasmania Prison Service where, as assistant director, he helped reform the service. Last year he was promoted to commander and is now responsible for the Professional Standards Command.
Asked about today's award, Commander Bonde said he was "chuffed".
"But there are lots of people in the service that I think are just as deserving of it," he said
Commander Bonde said without the support of his wife and children, he doubted he would have been in the service for nearly four decades.
By ALEXANDRA HUMPHRIES
THE annual Launceston Competitions would not run smoothly without the tireless dedication of Margaret East.
Mrs East has been the secretary of the Launceston Competitions for the past 35 years, and has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service.
Mrs East said she wanted to thank the person who anonymously put her name forward for the medal.
‘‘When I got the letter – I was accepting it with pride – but I did feel very humbled because I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done over the years,’’ she said.
‘‘You watch [the performers] grow up and perform from little kids and then they’re young adults.
They’re appreciative of what you do.’’
Mrs East said she had plenty of people to thank for her support, including her family and the Launceston Competitions committee.
‘‘I think it’s an honour for the committee, because Launceston Competitions have been going for 113 years,’’ she said.
‘‘A person can’t do this on their own. They have to have a supportive committee, and that’s what I’ve had.’’
Mrs East was the foundation secretary of the Tasmanian National Dancing Association until 1994, and is a life member of the Tasmanian State Committee of Highland Dancing.
By ALEXANDRA HUMPHRIES
THE significant service that Longford’s John Cauchi has provided to the law has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Mr Cauchi has been named a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the law and to international relations. He has performed administrative and legal roles in a number of countries throughout the South Pacific.
Mr Cauchi was the first non-Tongan to hold the office of Attorney General of Tonga in 2009-10, and was also Senior Crown Counsel in Tonga between 1996 and 2001.
Mr Cauchi was the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Soloman Islands between 2004 and 2006, and principal crown prosecutor there in 2004.
He held the position of senior advisor to the public prosecutors office in Vanuatu from 2001-03.
Mr Cauchi has also been recognised for his service within Australia, including as principal crown counsel in the office of the director of public prosecutions in Tasmania in 2009, and senior prosecutor in the office of the DPP in the Australian Capital Territory.
He is a member of the New South Wales Bar Association, the International Association of Prosecutors, the International Society for the Reform of the Criminal Law, and the residents sub-committee for Longford, Northern Midlands Council.
LAUNCESTON-based child and adolescent psychologist Stephen Biddulph has been named a Member of the Order of Australia.
Mr Biddulph was awarded the honour for his contributions to community health, and as an author and educator.
Mr Biddulph has written eight books including Raising Boys, Steve Biddulph’s Raising Girls, Stories of Manhood, and The Making of Love.
Mr Biddulph has been an adjunct professor at the Cairnmillar Institute since 2012, and is the national ambassador of the playgroups association.
He is a patron of the Australian Children’s Media Council, Family Life Victoria, the Sanctuary Australia Foundation and the St Francis Children’s Society in the United Kingdom.
Mr Biddulph is the director of The Evandale Centre and a supporter of Children Out of Detention (Chilout).
MARY Wakefield was able to accept her nomination for a Medal of the Order of Australia before she died earlier this year.
The former Invermay resident was nominated for the medal for her many years of service as a volunteer cook with City Mission and St Giles.
According to Launceston mayor Albert van Zetten, who was chief executive of City Mission during Ms Wakefield’s years of service, she was a selfless volunteer who was well regarded for more than just her cooking.
‘‘She just continued to give time and time again, day after day and year after year, that I can remember,’ he said.’
In a letter to her children written in March, St Giles chief executive Ian Wright said Ms Wakefield had been ‘‘extraordinary.’’.
‘‘Her gift to the children she served at St Giles was to allow them to feel they were ‘at home’ and not in an institution,’’ he said.
‘‘Your mother was remarkable.’’
By ISABEL BIRD
LONG-TIME Launceston volunteer Mervyn Whybrow has been recognised and honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia.
For more than 30 years Mr Whybrow has given up his time as a member of the City of Launceston Lions Club, but his innate desire to hold out a hand for others started well before that.
He says simply: ‘‘I was always wanting to help people – it is just in my nature.’’
In 1999 he became involved with Spurr Wing House, a place where people can stay during their cancer treatments at the Holman Clinic.
Here he became president for three years, helping to build kitchens, expand the premises and conduct general maintenance.
‘‘I put up my hand and I’ve been there ever since,’’ he said.
‘‘Some of those poor people are there for seven weeks or longer needing treatment, and they come and they go, and you feel for them, you really do.’’
Mr Whybrow has also volunteered in clean-ups of the North Esk River and worked with the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol.
He has helped find funding for the Low Head public boat ramp and worked on the Low Head Heritage and Progress Association committee and the Low Head Pilot Station Support Group, which helps blow the foghorn to tourists every Sunday.
He has volunteered for the Returned and Services League Tasmania, has helped out at garage sales for people moving out of homes and has always been willing to assist individuals who need his assistance.
‘‘To be honest with you I didn’t realise I had been involved with so many organisations until Barbara (his wife) put it together,’’ he said.
‘‘When they told me I was to receive this award, I nearly collapsed. I shook.
‘‘It took me by such a surprise, but I was so humbled, to think that someone thought to give me an award such as this. I don’t look for accolades, I never have done.’’
Mr Whybrow insisted that all of his work had been achieved with the support of Barbara.
‘‘Behind every man is a good woman. Really and truly, you can’t be without.’’
By DANIEL MCCULLOCH
PIERRE Slicer feels like he has two homes.
After spending 19 years as a judge on the Supreme Court of Tasmania, Justice Slicer moved to Samoa to spend four years as a judge on the Samoan Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Samoa.
‘‘When leaving (Samoa) I said that I had two hearts and two homes.
One was the island state of Tasmania, and the other was the island state of Samoa,’’ he said.
Justice Slicer said after he helped out in Samoa for three months in 2006 dealing with election cases he had not expected that he would be asked to return to work there later in his career.
‘‘I thought they’d never have me back. When I left the Supreme Court of Tasmania in 2009, within a couple of weeks the Chief Justice of Samoa rang up and said ‘come on Pierre, you said you’d help if we needed you’,’’ he said.
‘‘I went for one year,Igot persuaded to do two, then three, and then finally four and a bit and we came home.’’
Justice Slicer said his position as the president of his university’s student union during the 1960’s and the time he spent in Atlanta, Georgia during the civil rights movement helped shape his views and his love of the law.
‘‘I’ve enjoyed the law, and I’ve always thought that the law combined my training with the ability I guess to communicate within society or assist or get involved in matters which involved ordinary people.’’
DR BEVIS Graham Yaxley has been posthumously named a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to education in Tasmania.
Dr Yaxley was given the award primarily for his work in curriculum development as both an administrator and academic.
He was an associate professor at the National Key Centre for Science and Mathematics Education Centre at Curtin University,adirector of the Tasmanian Educational Leaders Institute, and head of department and Dean of the faculty of education at the University of Tasmania in the 1970s.
FORMER Derwent Valley mayor Anthony Nicholson has been awarded an Order of Australia medal for service to local government and to the community of the Derwent Valley.
Mr Nicholson served on the Derwent Valley council between 1998 and 2014, in various roles including as councillor, mayor and deputy mayor.
He remains a member of Derwent Catchment Natural Resource Management, and concluded his service as a member of the Southern Waste Strategy Authority last year.
He was a founding member of the New Norfolk Historical Information Centre.
JUSTICE Robert James Benjamin has become a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the judiciary and the law, legal education, mediation and arbitration, and to professional standards.
Justice Benjamin is Tasmania’s resident Family Court judge, based in Hobart, and has presided over that court since 2005.
He is also the chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee,amember of the family law council, and a presidential member of the administrative appeals tribunal.
PUBLIC health and HIV/AIDS campaigner Michael Mervyn Clarke has been recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia.
Mr Clarke died in October last year, and had spent much of his life working in public health, public administration, and serving his community.
Mr Clarke became a member of the Tasmanian Council on AIDS and Related Diseases in 1987.
His work to create awareness for HIV and AIDS was also demonstrated through his membership of the Board of Governors, AIDS Trust of Australia since 1987, and his work as deputy chair of that organisation between 1996 and 2006.
TONY Foster’s work with refugees and asylum seekers are some of his most cherished memories.
Cr Foster has been the mayor of Brighton since 1993, and has been named a Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday honours list.
‘‘What stands out to me is the involvement I’ve been able to have, first of all in 1999 and 2000 with Kosovo (refugees) when they were sent here to the safe haven in Brighton, and in more recent times my involvement with asylum seekers and refugees at the Pontville detention Centre,’’ he said.
‘‘Certainly to me as an individual they are the things that stand out to me the most.’’
Cr Foster was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2005, and said he was honoured to receive the Membership as well.
HAYDYN Nielsen has been awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his service to local government, the community of Glenorchy, and to sport.
Mr Nielsen has been an alderman on the Glenorchy City Council since 1992.
He was vicepresident of the Tasmanian Football League Umpires Association, and has umpired 430 games.
He was chairman of the Tasmanian Football League tribunal in 1999.
He was race director of the Point to Pinnacle Fun Run between 1993 and 2011, and chairman and race director of the City to Casino fun run since 2005.
THE opportunity to contribute to the welfare of the Tasmanian community was what drew Norman Reaburn to the role of director of the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania.
Mr Reaburn served in the position between 2000 and 2013, and said he felt it was significant to have the opportunity to finish his working life in that role.
‘‘I’ve lived in Tasmania a lot of times, including asachild, and I love this place,’’ he said.
Mr Reaburn said during his term as director, the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania became the most efficient in Australia.
Mr Reaburn has been named a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to the law.
He also served as the chair of National Legal Aid between 2002 and 2004, and again in 2008 to 2010.