Julia Gillard says she's proud to be part of a country where a four year old migrant can grow up to become prime minister.
She may be more than 10,000km from her home town of Adelaide, but Julia Gillard will still toast Australia Day from Malawi.
The former Labor prime minister has been appointed a Companion in the General Division (AC) of the Order of Australia for her "contributions to economic and social development, particularly policy reform in the areas of education, disability care, workplace relations, health, foreign affairs and the environment, and as a role model to women".
Having retired from politics in 2013, Ms Gillard is chairwoman of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) - a body bringing together governments, the private sector, philanthropists, teachers and students to improve education in some of the world's poorest nations.
On Australia Day, she'll be with a delegation travelling through the southeast African nation discussing how $90 million will be spent supporting 80,000 students and 24,000 teachers.
"I'm personally thrilled and deeply honoured," she told AAP.
"The sense it gives me is one about our nation and what a great country we are where it is possible to jump off a boat as a four year old in 1966 and end up prime minister and being recognised on Australia Day in this way."
Politics had always been, for her, about having the ability to make a difference and solve problems.
"A key focus for me was always education - belief in the power of education to transform lives."
Ms Gillard said while there would continue to be debates about the future of the Gonski school funding plan and the national disability insurance scheme, the concept of needs-based education funding remained intact and Australia would "never go back" on the NDIS.
Her work with the GPE was being impacted by the "global debate of our times" - the growing trend towards nationalism seen in the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote.
"With people seeming to be looking inwards rather than outwards, that does pose problems for GPE and for our world generally, given in this interconnected age you don't get to shout 'Stop the world I want to get off'," she said.
"What happens overseas will always impact your nation - we do need to be globally engaged.
"But I understand many people have found the pace of change and global engagement too rapid and too stressful and they are of a mind to turn inwards."
Ms Gillard said the solution for politicians worldwide was to "find ways of taking people on journeys of change and find ways to support them through journeys of change".
Asked what she felt about a growing cynicism about Australia Day, Ms Gillard said the event was still relevant.
"I hope on a day like Australia Day we are big enough to talk about and think about all parts of our national story and use it as an occasion to resolve to always seek to do better in the future."