LGBT+ advocates recognised with Order of Australia

Rebecca Johnson OAM 2023

Prominent LGBTQIA+ advocates are among those who have been recognised in the Australia Day 2023 Honours.

Over 1000 Australians have been recognised for “meritorious, distinguished and conspicuous service” to their work, and the nation.

David Polson was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant contribution in HIV education and advocacy roles.


David Polson AM was one of the first 400 Australian men diagnosed with HIV.

At that time, doctors advised him to tell only three people about the diagnosis.

However, David decided that he needed to bring HIV/AIDS into the broader conversation. He has since become a passionate advocate for HIV education.

David is also a co-founder and the first Chair of QTOPIA, Sydney.

David Polson AM
David Polson. Image: Supplied

Michael Barnett was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the LGBTQI community.

Michael Barnett OAM
Michael Barnett. Image: Supplied

Michael Barnett OAM is the co-convenor of Jewish LGBTQIA+ advocacy group Aleph Melbourne.

In a statement, Aleph Melbourne co-convener Colin Krycer said that the award was a testament to Michael’s “tireless work”.

“Michael has provided a welcoming place for hundreds of people over the years, and has been at the forefront of fighting for the dignity and humanity of people from diverse genders and sexual orientations,” he said.

“From arranging Shabbat meals and social get-togethers to taking on the might of the establishment, he has worked tirelessly to make life just a little better for the community.”

Rebecca Johnson was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Indigenous and LGBTQI+ communities.

Rebecca Johnson and Commissioner Carroll
Rebecce Johnson. Image: Amsnel Gorgonio

Rebecca Johnson OAM is the President of Queensland Pride and has been a tireless advocate for the LGBTQIA+ and Indigenous communities.

On behalf of Brisbane Pride, Rebecca recently responded to the Queensland Police apology to LGBTQIA+ people.

She described the apology as a milestone and said it provided a meaningful starting point.

“Today,” she said, “we remember the Legends that came before us.

“We acknowledge and stand here in solidarity today, with those members of our communities who have survived, both those in this room, and those across the state who will hear this apology today and will remember their experience. We hope that it brings you some peace.”

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