Who made the Queens Birthday Honours List 2020?

In a list that is heavily weighted towards the law and politics this year, the arts barely gets a look in – and largely at a ground roots level.

Shortly after the Queens Honour List was announced this year, social media went off with commentary about the value and honour across this year’s list. Heading up the list was former Prime Minister Tony Abbott – who you might remember lobbied back in 2014 to have this top honour turned into a Knighthood – his Companion of the Order (AC) came with a nod to significant contributions to border control and the Indigenous community.

It set the tone for this year’s list which was heavily weighted to politicians, the law, bankers and industry. Medicine – as always – was also strongly represented.

Of the 933 Honours bestowed this year, only 68 were from the Arts and culture sector. It is another dismal blow to an industry that has kept the nation buoyant, and which continues to go unrecognised for its value by our government and power brokers.

What are the Queen’s birthday awards?

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List has historically been released annually on the holiday Monday of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June. Appointments to the Order of Australia confer the highest recognition for outstanding achievement and service.

The General Division of the Order of Australia has four levels: the Companion of the Order (AC) is the country’s highest civilian award; followed by Officer of the Order (AO), Member of the Order (AM) and Medal of the Order (OAM).

The 2020 Honours recognised 933 exceptional Australians, with 710 recipients in the General Division and 28 recipients in the Military Division; and 128 meritorious awards.

The Companion of the Order (AC)

While much of the talk this year has been around the number of politicians awarded this year, including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott – his AC came with a nod to significant contributions to border control and the Indigenous community. It’s been hotly debated online whether his contributions to First Australians are worthy of an award, particularly in the context of Black Lives Matters protests which have highlighted Deaths in Custody.

Also receiving our nation’s highest honour was Naomi Gay Milgrom (VIC), for her philanthropic leadership and support for the promotion of the arts, architecture, design excellence and cultural exchange. Most recognise Milgrom for her gift of MPavilion to Melbourne, as Commissioner to Venice Biennale, and capacity to ensure that many exhibitions are developed.

Officer of the Order (AO)

Lucy Mary Guerin (VIC) – For distinguished service to contemporary dance as a choreographer, and as a mentor and advocate for emerging artists and new works.

Greta Richmond Moran (NSW) – For distinguished service to the visual arts through philanthropic initiatives, as an advocate for Australian art and artists, and to the aged care sector.

Simon David Mordant (NSW) – For distinguished service to the visual arts at the national and international level, to emerging artists, and to philanthropy.

Robyn Anne Nevin (NSW) – For distinguished service to the performing arts as an acclaimed actor and artistic director, and as a mentor and role model.

Mr Jan Vittorio Sardi (VIC) – For distinguished service to the film and television industries as a screenwriter and director, and to professional guilds.

Also in need of a mention was the honouring of Professor Marcia Lynne Langton AM (VIC) as an advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and Ryan Kerry Stokes (NSW) with a wide brushstroke of honour, including cultural institions.

Member of the Order (AM)

Yvonne Audette (VIC) – For significant service to the visual arts as an abstract painter.

Professor Esther Ruth Charlesworth (VIC) – For significant service to architecture, to education, and to the community of the Asia-Pacific region.

Elizabeth (Libby) Patricia Christie (NSW) – For significant service to performing arts administration, and to women in business.

Frank Richard Howarth PSM (NSW) – For significant service to the visual arts through the museums and galleries sector.

Dr David Ian Kramm (VIC) – For significant service to the performing arts, to opera and chamber choirs, and to education.

Dr Susan Jane Mayers (VIC) – For significant service to physiotherapy, particularly to professional ballet dancers.

Mark Opitz (QLD) – For significant service to the performing arts, particularly to music production.

Gretel Lees Packer (NSW) – For significant service to the community, to the visual and performing arts, and to conservation.

Ms Jerril Samantha Rechter (VIC) – For significant service to community health, to sports administration, and to the arts.

Ross Harry Shardlow (WA) – For significant service to the visual arts as a painter, and to maritime history.

David Glen Slater (QLD) – For significant service to the community through social welfare and arts organisations.

Antonia Syme (VIC) – For significant service to visual arts administration, and to maritime archaeology.

Mr Charalambos Andrea Vatiliotis (NSW) – For significant service to musical instrument making as a luthier.

Bronwyn Watkins (NSW) – For significant service to the performing arts through dance administration

Herbert Morsley Wharton (QLD) – For significant service to the literary arts, to poetry, and to the Indigenous community.


Vincent Namatjira, Queen Elizabeth and Vincent (On Country), 2018. Courtesy the artist and Iwantja Arts.

Medal of the Order (OAM)

Artists and performers honoured:

Albert Silvio Apponyi (SA) – For service to the visual arts as a sculptor.

Mrs Nyurpaya Kaika Burton (SA) – For service to Indigenous visual art, and to the community. Mrs Burton is an Anangu artist.

Julie Millowick (VIC) – For service to the visual arts, particularly to photography.

Peter Mungkuri (SA) – For service to Indigenous visual art, and to the community. From the Indulkana Community on APY Lands he is a respected elder and a stockman in his younger years. He played a key role in the development of APY Land Rights Act. He is a director at Iwantja Arts and founding director of the APY Arts Centre Collective.

Vincent Namatjira (SA) – For service to Indigenous visual art, and to the community. From the remote Indulkana APY Lands, Namatjira was the winner of the 2019 Ramsay Art Prize.  ‘I’m proud to be recognized for being a leader for my community – for using my art practice to put forward a strong positive voice from a remote Indigenous community,’ he said on social media. Namatjira’s great grandfather Albert Namatjira met the Queen and received the Coronation Medal.

Tjunkaya Tapaya (SA) – For service to Indigenous visual art, and to the community. Tjunkaya grew up at the Ernabella Mission, which became a Craft Room in 1948, where she made her weavings and later batik and ceramics. She is also a prolific writer in Pitjantjatjara.

The late Mr Mumu Mike Williams (SA) – For service to Indigenous visual art, and to the community. Mr Williams was a founding member of Mimili Maku Arts Centre and the APY Arts Centre Collective. His politically-toned artwork was featured in the 2019 Biennale of Sydney.

Arts professionals and philanthropists:

Mrs Valma Mary Allaway (VIC) – For service to performing arts administration.

Keith Mervyn Cowen (NSW) – For service to arts administration.

Nicole Jane Cumpston (SA) – For service to the museums and galleries sector, and to Indigenous art. Cumpston is Art Gallery of SA Curator and Tarnanthi Artistic Director.

Caroline Isobel Downer (NSW) – For service to the visual and performing arts through a range of roles.

Christine Dunstan (NSW) – For service to the performing arts as a producer and mentor.

Frances Lynette Harrison (VIC) – For service to Indigenous visual art, and to the community.

Margaret Frances Harvison (QLD) – For service to the performing arts.

Mr Lennie Ian Hayes (VIC) – For service to Indigenous visual art, and to the community.

Diane Lesley Kershaw (NSW) – For service to the visual arts.

Professor Natalie Rebecca King (VIC) – For service to the contemporary visual arts. King was curator of the Australia Pavilion for the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.

Catherine Larkins (VIC) – For service to Indigenous visual art, and to the community.

Dr Wendy Faye Michaels (NSW) – For service to women, and to the dramatic arts.

Gregory David Paterson (NSW) – For service to the performing arts, particularly to music.

Robert Henry Perkins (VIC) – For service to film and television production and set design.

Marcus Westbury (VIC) – For service to the contemporary arts. Westbury is the inaugural CEO of Contemporary Arts Precincts Ltd that is leading the development of the Collingwood Arts Precinct in Melbourne. He is also the founder of the multi award-winning Renew Newcastle and Renew Australia projects.

For support at ground roots level:

Rosemary Joy Allen (NSW) – For service to music education, and to the community.

Fay May Baker (QLD) – For service to choral music.

Machiel Johan Berghuis (NSW) – For service to the community through music.

Melvyn Geoffrey Blanchfored (VIC) – For service to the pharmacy profession, and to jazz music.

John Douglas D’Arcy (NSW) – For service to the performing arts, particularly to music.

John William Deacon (NSW) – For service to the performing arts, and to education.

Dr Kim Frances Dunphy (VIC) – For service to community health through dance movement therapy.

Colin Rex Edwards (SA) – For service to the preservation of the Heysen Trail.

Rosslyn Marie Fox (VIC) – For service to the performing arts.

Dr Ben Ami Gelin (NSW) – For service to music, and to the community of Bathurst.

Caroline Tottie Goldsmith (VIC) – For service to the community, and to the performing arts.

Noel Griffith (VIC) – For service to music, and to the community.

The late Miss Wendy Iris Irelande (NSW) – For service to music education.

Donald Stewart Ives (TAS) – For service to music, and to the community.

Keith Ross Jamieson (QLD) – For service to country music, and to the community.

Monika Laczofy (SA) – For service to music education.

Felix Gerald Meagher (VIC) – For service to celtic music and dance.

Jeffrey Bruce Morgan (SA) – For service to the visual arts, and to the community.

George Petrou (VIC) – For service to the visual arts, and to veterans.

Valerie Adeline Randell (NSW) – For service to dancesport.

Dr Rama Rao (VIC) – For service to Indian music and dance.

Bruce John Raymond (SA) – For service to music, particularly to brass bands.

Catherine Marie Rogers (VIC) – For service to chamber music.

Shobha Sekhar (VIC) – For service to Indian music and dance.

Dr Peter Tregear (VIC) – For service to music education, and to professional organisations.

To see the full list of Honours.

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub's National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW. Twitter: @ginafairley Instagram: fairleygina