A 78er, a Paralympic champion, a HIV/AIDS pioneer, and a longtime community volunteer are among the LGBTQIA+ Aussies recognised in the 2024 Australia Day Honours.
More than 1000 people across Australia have been recognised in the 2024 Honours List for their achievements and service to the community.
Robert French (above centre), a 78er and longtime activist and historian, was awarded for his service to Australia’s LGBTQIA+ community.
A passionate historian and archivist, Robert has worked with organisations including C.A.M.P, the Campaign Against Moral Persecution; the NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby; ACON; and the Pride History Group.
After police violently broke up the first Mardi Gras march in Sydney, Robert protested in Sydney to demand the release of those arrested.
“On the Sunday morning, I remember hearing the news broadcasts on the ABC of the police riot. Hearing both the Police Minister and also the NSW Premier trying to justify what the police did, I got very, very angry,” Robert recalled in 2020.
“Although I’d been a member of the gay community right from 1971, the Mardi Gras and that morning was the point where I actually became an activist.”
Colin Krycer a ‘tireless’ community volunteer
Victoria’s Colin Krycer (below) was also awarded for service to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Colleagues have paid tribute to Colin’s “many years and countless thousands of hours” of volunteer work for people living with HIV/AIDS initially through the Victorian AIDS Council – now Thorne Harbour Health – since the late 1980s.
Colin has also worked with JOY Media since its launch in 1993 and Jewish community group Aleph Melbourne since 1997.
Congratulations to longstanding volunteer Colin Krycer on being awarded the #orderofaustralia – Colin’s volunteering includes @thorneharbour @alephmelbourne @joy949 and many other community orgs. Well deserved Colin! https://t.co/FnMkoaCqDP pic.twitter.com/vNWmwkmFvJ
— Thorne Harbour Health (@ThorneHarbour) January 25, 2024
“We are so proud of our Colin,” Aleph Melbourne co-convener Michael Barnett said.
“He’s a quiet, behind-the-scenes kinda guy. He doesn’t seek or want attention. He just gives of himself, tirelessly.
“Thank you Colin for your commitment, passion, enthusiasm, guidance and sense of humour. We are so much richer for what you do and who you are.”
Paralympic champion Ellie Cole gets AM
Australian paralympic champion Ellie Cole also received a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
In 2021, the queer athlete became Australia’s most decorated female Paralympian. The retired swimmer and wheelchair basketballer won 17 Paralympic medals.
Ellie was awarded for her “significant service to sport as an advocate for diversity and inclusion” of Australians with a disability.
“If we can just make small changes throughout our community, and they can have the same opportunities as all of their peers, then do they actually have a disability? I’m always asking myself that question,” she told the Guardian in 2021.
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Among the medical professionals awarded Australia Day Honours this year are several HIV researchers.
Professor Julian Gold was awarded “for significant service to medicine as a clinical epidemiologist and researcher, and to community health” including Australians with HIV.
Professor Gold was appointed to Australia’s National AIDS Taskforce in 1982. He later established an early public HIV testing centre, that’s today named The Albion Centre in Surry Hills.
‘We thank them for their hard work and selflessness’
Governor-General David Hurley today congratulated all of the recipients.
“Recipients come from all parts of the country. They’ve served and had an impact in just about every field you can imagine. Their stories and backgrounds are diverse.
“We value their service, thank them for their hard work and selflessness and, today, celebrate them.
“To each recipient: know that you have the thanks and respect of your nation.
“In my experience, most are humble and often try to deflect attention or praise. Please enjoy the moment because your country has decided that you deserve recognition.”
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