Top honours went to Emeritus Professor Helen Lochhead and to Conjoint Associate Professor Sally McCarthy, who were both appointed as AOs in this year’s awards, where women outnumbered men on the list for only the second time in history.
Six WOB members were appointed in the AM division; Diana D'Ambra AM FAICD’, Associate Professor Ngaire Elwood AM, Virginia Gordon AM, Avril Henry, Emeritus Professor Lesley Hitchens and Bernadette Uzelac AM GAICD, FIML.
Four WOB members were awarded an OAM; Julie Adams, OAM, GAICD, Georgina Gubbins, Kerry Skellern and Jan Tennent.
There were 739 awards in the general division for 2024, with Australian women receiving 373 (or just over half) of these. This is only the second time a majority of honours were awarded to women since the national system was introduced in 1975.
Claire Braund, Executive Director of Women on Board said it was hugely pleasing to see so many highly valued members of Women on Boards receive recognition with an AO or an AM and a few more women than men feature on the list.
“It’s taken a lot of advocacy and a lot of work by many to reach a level of parity in the honours system and recognition across a very diverse spectrum of industry and community sectors.”
Conjoint Associate Professor Sally McCarthy AO
Conjoint Associate Professor Sally McCarthy has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to emergency medicine, and to professional associations through leadership roles.
Immediate Past-President, and Board Member of the International Federation of Emergency Medicine, Sally is also Chair of the Standards and Endorsements Committee at the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) and an experiences NED and specialist emergency medicine physician
Emeritus Professor Helen Lochhead AO
Emeritus Professor Helen Lochhead has been appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to architecture and urban design, to building regulation reform, to tertiary education, and to professional organisations.
An architect and urbanist, combining professional practice, board and academic roles for over 25 years Helen is the Emeritus Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at University of NSW and experienced NED, and has served as the Chair and National President of the Australian Institute of Architects. Since April 2023 she has been a Good Design Ambassador for Good Design Australia and Non-Executive Board member with the National Capital Authority. Other recent leadership roles include Pro Vice-Chancellor, Precincts and Dean, Faculty of the Built Environment, UNSW Sydney, Australia.
Virginia Gordon AM
Virginia Gordon has been made a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the arts and the community. A mentor with WOB since 2019, public affairs specialist Virginia has also been a member of the Australian Youth Orchestra’s National Council since 2008. Virginia was also a Director and former Vice-President of The Women’s Club in Sydney, Board member and Vice-President of Sydney Film Festival and Director and Deputy President of the Arts Law Centre of Australia. She has also been involved with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and is currently a strategic advisor for Musica Viva.
Avril Henry AM
WOB member, leadership strategist, career coach, author and NED Avril Henry has been made a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to business consultancy, project management and to women. Named in the Australian Financial Review’s Top 10 Women of Influence in Diversity and Inclusion, 2015, Avril has worked as HR Director for top firms including Clayton Utz, Merril Lynch and DMR Consulting and was a senior D&I advisor to the Chief of Army and Chief of Navy.
Ngaire Elwood AM
Fellow WOB member Ngaire Elwood was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to medicine, particularly through stem cell research. Head of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Director of BDMI Cord Blood Bank and Royal Children’s Hospital since 2007, Ngaire has devoted her career to investigating, developing and providing improved therapies for the treatment of cancer, leukaemia and other disorders and is passionate about the therapeutic application of cord blood and cellular therapies.
Ngaire serves on several boards including as vice president of the international Board of Directors for the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapies, non-executive director on the Board of the National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia and board chair of the Australian Sickle Cell Advocacy Inc. Ngaire has been instrumental in advancing stem cell research for the benefit of Victorian, Australian and International patients and researchers.
Diana D’Ambra AM
Experienced Chair, NED and Diana D’Ambra was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the finance and banking industry as a mentor and director.
“Receiving this prestigious honour is a truly humbling experience, and I am deeply grateful to numerous individuals who have played pivotal roles in my journey towards achieving this award,” Diana wrote on LinkedIn. “I sincerely hope that these awards serve as a platform to inspire others to leverage their contributions and effect meaningful change in our communities and in business.”
Within the finance industry Diana has been a NED with Financial Advice of Australia since 2020, Chair and NED of Women in Banking and Finance since 2019. She is also Chair and NED of City West Housing community housing provider. A member of the Disclosure Initiative Project Advisory Panel, Australian Accounting Standards Board, NED with Clime Capital, Advisory Board Member with Downsizer.com Diana was also Chair and NED of Australian Shareholders’ Association, 2014-2019. She has also held Chair roles with the Australian Property Institute and Australian Design Centre.
Emeritus Professor Lesley Hitchens AM
Emeritus Professor Lesley Hitchens was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to tertiary education, and to the law. Emeritus Professor of Law at UTS since 2023, Lesley was Chair of the Council of Australian Law Deans, 2019-2020 National Chair of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission’s Law Discipline Committee. In 2018 Lesley was the recipient of the Australian Financial Times’ Legal Innovator Award. Since June 2023 Lesley has been a Board Member with the Shopfront Arts Co-op - a youth arts organisation in Sydney.
Bernadette Uzelac AM
Victorian board recruitment specialist, Bernadette Uzelac, was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the community of the Barwon South West Region. The HR specialist and former CEO of Geelong Chamber of Commerce is an experienced NED and Chair and sits on several boards, advisory boards and committees.
An accomplished CEO, entrepreneur and business leader with high level board and chair experience serving on a range of NFP, education, health, arts, sports, business, private and public sector boards, Bernadette is Deputy Chair of Latrobe Community Health Service, Board Trustee with Kardinia Park Stadium Trust and Geelong Cemeteries Trust and a Telstra Regional Advisory Council Member.
Congratulations also to the following WOB members who were awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2024 Australia Day honours list.
Julie Adams, WA. For service to pharmaceutical oncology. Julie is a Co-Director and Co-Founder of chemo@home, Australia's leading provider of home-based cancer services.
Georgina Gubbins, Vic. For service to primary industry, and to the community. Agribusiness specialist and experienced NED and Chair Georgina Gubbins - Managing Director of Maneroo Farms and sits on the Leadership Oversight Committee - Women in Water at Victoria’s Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action.
Kerry Skellern, NSW. For service to the community through a range of organisations. Kerry is an independent business adviser with 30 years' of business experience working with large corporates to start-ups.
Dr Jan Tennent, Vic. For service to research science, and to business. Jan is a NED at Apiam Animal Health Ltd and eviDENT Foundation - an oral health research foundation.
‘Making a difference’
The Governor-General David Hurley congratulated the outstanding Australians recognised in the Honours List.
“Recipients have made a difference and had an impact at the local, national and/or international level," the Governor-General said. “Individually, they are inspiring and collectively they speak to the strength of our communities."Recipients come from all parts of the country. They have served and had an impact in just about every field you can imagine; their stories and backgrounds are diverse."
Four people were awarded with the highest Honour, Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) including former Commonwealth Bank chairwoman - University of Technology Sydney chancellor and CSIRO chair Catherine Livingstone - for her service to business, education, science and the arts. She was joined by criminologist Lorraine Mazerolle, University of Queensland vice-chancellor Deborah Terry, and scientist and chemical engineer David Boge.
Among those also honoured were former Australian politician and Australian ambassador for women and girls Sharman Stone AM, 10News journalist Sandra Sully, children’s author Pamela Allen AM, specialist burns surgeon and 2004 Australian of the Year Fiona Wood (AO), paralympic swimmer Ellie Cole, Tasmania's first female premier Lara Giddings (AO).
See the full Australia Day Honours List 2024 here