By Brendan Rees
From a former City of Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor to a judge to selfless volunteers, a dozen CBD residents have been named in the Queen’s Birthday 2021 Honours List for their outstanding services to the community.
Leading the way was former Australian Ballet head, David McAllister, who was bestowed with the country’s highest-level award, the Companion of the Order of Australia.
Mr McAllister, 57, said he was “totally surprised” to receive the prestigious award, which recognised his “eminent service to the performing arts”.
“For people that do outstanding work, it’s quite extraordinary to be put in that category,” Mr McAllister told CBD News.
“To be able to have spent my whole career doing the thing that I love it’s just such a great reward in itself.”
Born in Perth, Mr McAllister joined The Australian Ballet in 1983 and was promoted to a senior artist in 1986 and to principal artist three years later.
He danced the lead in productions including The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Coppélia, Manon, La Sylphide, John Cranko’s Onegin and Romeo and Juliet.
Looking back at his career, which included a 20-year stint as artistic director of Australian Ballet, Mr McAllister said, “I feel very blessed to have been in the one company for my whole career”.
“I think that’s quite unusual these days and especially in ballet circles and to go from being a dancer to being a director is a great highlight.”
In April, he was presented the coveted international award, the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award, by the Royal Academy of Dance.
Mr McAllister said he was still “tenuously connected” to ballet since stepping back as artistic director.
This has included teaching, mentoring, and making a new production of Swan Lake for Finnish National Ballet, which has been postponed until next year due to the pandemic.
“I’m working with a lot of younger dancers and also people that are really passionate about the art form, so I’m sort of becoming a bit of an advocate now rather than hands-on,” he said.
The Queen’s Birthday list also honoured Sue Carr, a passionate interior designer whose notable works include the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest residential skyscraper, Australia 108.
She was appointed a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in recognition of her “significant service to interior design, to education, and to women in business”.
Since opening her first interior design studio in Melbourne in 1971, Ms Carr has championed the power of design to make a positive difference to people’s lives.
She is the founding principal of Carr Designs, a Melbourne-based architecture and interior design studio with more than 50 years of experience.
Ms Carr graduated from RMIT University and has been a life-long supporter of design education through advisory, graduate and scholarship programs.
“Sue’s approach to establishing initiatives that transform aspiring young graduates into outstanding interior designers is visionary,” Dr Suzie Attiwill, an Associate Dean of Interior Design at RMIT University, said.
“Her commitment to education and the future of the profession is unparalleled”.
Upon receiving the news of her award Ms Carr said, “I am humbled to have been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. It has been a rich and rewarding journey, and one I continue to share with so many remarkable and talented people”.
Elizabeth Cousins, a selfless volunteer, was also awarded an AM in honour of her decades of “significant service to the community through charitable initiatives”.
For the past 30 years she has dedicated herself to various community organisations, some of which she is a life member, including the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Recital Centre, Geelong Gallery, Australian Ballet, Melbourne Grammar School, Life Education Victoria, and National Trust Victoria.
“I just like seeing results. You have to have a reason to be in your skin and if you can do these things and make time to do it gives you enormous satisfaction,” Ms Cousins told CBD News.
Asked what inspired her, she said, “I think it’s the way you’re brought up. My parents were the first on the scene. If anyone needed help, they were there and you just take that as a natural way that you go about life”.
Others to be honoured with an AM included County Court of Victoria Judge Felicity Hampel for her service to the judiciary, legal organisations, and women; Angela Emslie, for her significant services to the finance and superannuation sectors, as well as her work in suicide prevention; and Victims of Crime Commissioner Fiona McCormack.
Former City of Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Peter McMullin received an AM for his services to business, law, and the community.
With a career spanning 40 years, Mr McMullin has an impressive list of achievements including serving as Lord Mayor of the Greater City of Geelong from 2004 to 2008, and positions such as secretary of the Victorian Council of Social Services, honorary consul of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and vice-president of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s great to know recognition and the work that you’ve done is appreciated,” Mr McMullin said of his award.
“It was a very well-kept secret among lots of my colleagues … and I’m really appreciative of their efforts.”
Mr McMullin, who served as Deputy Lord Mayor with the City of Melbourne from 1996 to 1999, said he was deeply saddened by the “profound impact” the pandemic had had on small businesses in Melbourne’s CBD, conceding it will “take us a long time to recover from it”.
“I’m doing whatever I can to encourage people to hang in there with the city because it’s such a wonderful place,” he said.
“In Melbourne and Victoria there’s a great community spirit; it’s so valuable, it’s precious and I’ve lived it for many years. I’m inspired by it, so we really want to encourage the continuation of that community spirit.”
The honours list also recognised five CBD residents with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) award.
Recipients included Jackie Brown for her services to people with a disability; Carmel Arthur, a member of the Post Sentence Authority, Victoria, for her services to the law; and Owen Hegarty for his services to the minerals and mining sector.
Associate Professor Dr Hyam Rawicki, a medical director of Paediatric Rehabilitation for the Victorian Paediatric Rehabilitation Service at Monash Children’s Hospital, received an OAM for his services to medicine as a rehabilitation specialist.
An OAM was also awarded to Faye Spiteri for her work in social change organisations through her various roles including CEO of aged-care provider Fronditha Care and as a board member of InTouch, a Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence.
Governor-General David Hurley congratulated all recipients across the country, saying “each of these individuals are unique and their story deserves to be shared widely and celebrated” •