Australia Day Honours include Rebekah Robertson and Georgie Stone


Mother and daughter duo Rebekah Robertson and Georgie Stone have been included in today’s Australia Day Honours for their service to transgender and gender-diverse communities.

Stone, who has been a high profile teen activist for transgender rights and recognition, is currently starring in the long running Australian soap-opera Neighbours, playing the show’s  first transgender character. Her mother Rebekah Robertson founded a support group for parents of transgender children and shared their families experiences in a book she authored.

A wide range of Australians have been recognised for their professional achievements and community service in today’s Australia Day honours, but the inclusion of Men’s Rights activist Bettina Arndt has drawn criticism.

A grand total of 837 people, ranging in age from 19 to 97, have been included in the annual honours roll call. This year more women than ever have been recognised, making up 41.6% of the recipients.

Bettina Arndt has been recognised; “for significant service to the community as a social commentator, and to gender equity through advocacy for men.” The academic has been a controversial figure in recent years having conducted a “fake rape” tour of Australian Universities arguing that claims that there was an epidemic of date rape cases on campuses was not true.

Arndt was also widely criticised in 2018 for conducting a sympathetic interview with convicted sex offender Nicolaas Bester.

Author Kaz Cooke was among the many public figures today questioning the decision to honour Arndt. ” Wonder which lurking cabal of grim-faced rorty grifters, Young Liberals, and misogyny’s henchfolk came up with that bit of snickering troll work?” Cooke posted to Twitter.

Political commentator Van Badham described the appointment as “vile.” On social media she said ““Bettina Arndt platformed a paedophile, creating space for a convicted criminal who groomed & raped a child to brag about his crimes, while she herself blamed children for ‘sexual provocation’. If she is what’s ‘honoured’ as an Australian, it is no honour AT ALL.”

Actor Rachel Griffiths, whose career began with the much loved comedy Muriel’s Wedding, has been a vocal campaigner for gay rights and marriage equality. Griffiths can now add the letters AM after her name, as can Western Australia’s Tim Minchin, and former Olympian turned TV host Johanna Griggs.

Playwright and current director of the Sydney Festival, Wesley Enoch has also been honoured, as has investigative journalist Kate McClymont.

Country Music star Keith Urban, former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, and former Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu, former Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone have all been appointed Officers of the Order of Australia.

Tasmania’s Police Commissioner Darren Hine has been recognised for his contribution to community, and his distinguished service to law enforcement. Listed in his achievements are is current chairmanship of the Tasmanian Lesbian Gay Transgender Intersex Committee.

Shane Colquhoun, the former General Manager of the West Australian Ballet and Black Swan State Theatre Company was recognised for his work in supporting arts and cultural organisations. Colquhoun is the current chair of The Blue Room, and also sits on the boards of many arts organisations in Perth.

Professor Joseph McCluskey has been honoured for his work in ophthalmology, and his contributions to medical education, to eye health organisations. Professor McCluskey was the chair of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists’ standing committee on HIV throughout the 1990’s at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

Actor Hugo Weaving has been made an Honorary Officer for his long career in the arts. Weavings international career took off after he starred in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.  

Janine Middleton, the CEO of The Pinnacle Foundation, has been recognised for her contribution to the LGBTIQ+ communities of Australia. Middleton was the Chief Operating Officer of Australia’s successful YEs campaign for marriage equality.

Carol Spencer, best known as veteran entertainer Carlotta has also been made a Member of the Order of Australia for her services to the entertainment industry and support of the LGBTIQ+ communities.

Her citation noted her three decades of the compare of Sydney’s Les Girls, and her advocacy work in highlight the needs of older LGBTIQ+ people.

Singer Glenn Shorrock who fronted Australian bands Axiom and The Twilights, before gaining international success in the late 1970’s with The Little River Band was made an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia.

In the general division Dr Liang Joo Leow was recognised for their services to medicine, including volunteering as the Chief Medical Officer for Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for many years.

Dr Sarah Midgley was recognised for her services to the LGBTIQ+ communities of Australia. A board member of the successful campaign for marriage equality, Dr Midgley has also contributed to NSW’s Pride History Group.

Graeme Watson 27-01-20 Updated to included additional people recognised. 29-01-20 This report was updated to clarify the descriptors of Bettina Arndt following an investigation by New Matilda 


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