It’s our twice-yearly tradition. Done at the beginning of the year on Australia Day, and then less than six months later on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
On today’s Queen’s Birthday honours list, women make up even fewer of the recipients of the general division honours, than in previous years. Just 30.6% of the general order gongs went to women, or 206 of the 673 recipients recognised, below the 31.4% average from the past five years.
Blanchett was the only woman to be appointed an AC, awarded for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree. Some of the other 14 AC recipients named included scientist Professor Peter Colman, economist Professor Ross Garnaut, Qantas Chief Alan Joyce and solicitor Julian McMahon, astronomer Professor Ken Freeman .
Joyce received his gong for his work in diversity and gender equity, along with his services to aviation and tourism, while Blanchett was recognised for her work in the arts, as well as her support for environmental and humanitarian causes.
Fashion designer Collette Dinnigan was named an officer of the Order of Australia, for her work in fashion design as well as for being a role model to women. Ruth Abdullah received the Medal of the Order of Australia, recognised for her work in Aboriginal communities, including with the Kimberley Legal Service in Kununurra.
Other AO recipients included Aboriginal educator Patricia Cameron, for her work leading communities in Tasmania, Royal Adelaide Hospital nurse Sheila Kavanagh, for her work in burns treatment, along with Australia’s first female bishop, Reverend Kay Goldsworthy — recognised as a “pioneer and a role model for women.”
Earlier this year, the Australia Day Honours List recognised 475 men, but just 252 women, with men outnumbering women in every category.
So what’s the issue? Well once again it’s that not enough women are being nominated.
There is also the fact, of course, that not enough women are serving in the most powerful and influential positions across Australia — those that tend to receive the most celebration and recognition.
And, as Jenna Price outlines in Fairfax papers today, that the Council For Order Of Australia is still dominated by men at the top.
Yesterday, chairman of the Council for the Order of Australia Sir Angus Houston suggested that the public need to do more.
“There is no limit to the number of women or men that can be recognised, but the system relies on nominations from the public for awards,” he told The Australian.
“More nominations for women would mean more awards and greater equity.”
The Australian reports today that just 29% of those nominated were female.