A new "Dame" - Professor The Honourable Marie Bashir
Prime Minister Abbott has re-instituted the awards of "Knight (AK)... " and "Dame (AD) in the General Division of the Order of Australia". Earlier this year in March, the outgoing Governor General was made a Dame - The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO; and the incoming Governor General became a Knight - His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).
This category is now the highest honour in the Australian titles, and this week the Governor of New South Wales joined this rank, being dubbed Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AC CVO, NSW.
This award was not only for her public office, but also for her prominence as a medical researcher in mental health issues and concomitant services to tertiary education since her graduation as a psychiatrist in the 1950s. Part of her research, and practical implementing of effective procedures, is centred around Aboriginal mental health. She supports similar services to developing countries in our region. (www.gg.gov.au)
Beautiful sea leaves
Companions of the Order of Australia
The next highest award is the AC (Companion of the Order of Australia). Four of the seven awards this year were for scientific achievements or supporting of science in our community. The recipients, their positions and direct quotes of the citations are reprinted below from this website, with added notes where appropriate. (www.gg.gov.au)
Dr Megan Clark, CEO of the CSIRO
"For eminent service to scientific research and development through fostering
innovation, to science administration through strategic leadership roles, and to the
development of public policy for technological sciences."
On an interview on ABC radio on Monday 9th June, Dr Clark commented that early in her career (as a mining geologist) she realised she was never going to be committed enough to pure research to be the next Nobel Prizewinner, so she now finds it "an amazing thing to part of" to have been able foster excellent basic scientific breakthroughs as well as partnerships with industry, as described here (www.news.com.au). She gave one particular example: the development of WiFi by Dr John O'Sullivan and his team, which has netted $430 million to the CSIRO. (arstechnica.com).
Lovely Sea Leaves
Professor Marc Feldmann (now living in London)
"For eminent service to medicine and to public health as an acclaimed researcher in
the field of chronic immune disease, and through the development of innovative
Professor Richard Gibbs (now living in Texas, USA)
"For eminent service to science and academic medicine as a leading researcher,
author and scholar, particularly in the field of genetics and human genome
sequencing, and as a mentor of emerging scientists."
The Honourable Dr Barry Jones AO
"For eminent service to the community as a leading intellectual in Australian public
life, through contributions to scientific, heritage, musical, medical, political and public health organisations, and to the Australian Parliament."
Right now, Australia does not have a specialised Minister for Science. But back in the Hawke Labor Government of 1983-90, the prominent polymath Barry Jones was an outspoken Minister and an advocate for all things to do with science in our community. Those of us who were "young adults" in the 1960s remember Barry as a star contestant on the TV quiz show called "Pick a Box". He always had an encyclopaedic knowledge of many topics, and would likely have single handedly beaten any other Trivial Pursuit team, had that game been invented then.
Among his achievements as Minister of Science was the expansion of CSIRO, the creation of the Australia Prize and the development of Questacon (the science activity centre in Canberra). Later, he was Vice-president of the World Heritage Committee and a member of the Executive Board of UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation). His interest in cultural and literary matters has led him to be a member of the Council of the National Library of Australia. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Jones)
Sea Leaves have such beauty
A satisfying spread of scientists, artists, musicians, sportspeople and others prominent in our community were also awarded some of the other Orders of Australia "gongs". I am very optimistic when I see that each year, science is being recognised more and more and is up there with the other perceived public services as an important element of our society. I also note also that some of "our scientists" are holding their own in prestigious positions overseas. These awards are no longer just parochial pats on the back in a colonial backwater, but important recognition that Australians are contributing to world knowledge in scientific matters.
I congratulate all of the worthy recipients of these very top Honours, being reminded of Ephesians 6 verses 7-8 (ESV) "With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free."
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html