Indigenous leaders, former refugees among Queen's Birthday honourees


Australians from Indigenous, migrant and refugee backgrounds are among some of the recipients of today's Queen's Birthday Honours.

When Warren Mundine was growing up in the New South Wales city of Grafton, he never expected he would become one of the country's leading voices for Indigenous rights.

"The big vision we had was going to work in a factory and just feed the family and get a house," Mr Mundine said.

But it was seeing his parents and siblings working to serve the community that inspired Mr Mundine to further the rights of Indigenous Australians.

His work has been recognised with an Order of Australia award in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list.

"You don't do these things for awards," Mr Mundine said.

"You do this work because you want to help out and do community work."

"I came here with nothing but an invisible suitcase of dreams"

South Australian Governor, Hieu Van Le has also been honoured on this year's list.

After fleeing Vietnam during the war, he came to Australia by boat and has since spent his life giving back to the country that welcomed him.

"I came here with nothing but an invisible suitcase of dreams," Mr Le said.

"I think it's a privilege to be able to pay it back to do something to contribute to the society which has given to us so generously and so much."

Other honourees include Rhoda Roberts, who has coordinated events from the Sydney Olympics to New Years Eve celebrations, and Indian refugee Darshak Mehta, who co-founded Learning for a Better World, a charity providing education to thousands of disadvantaged youth around the world.

Ms Roberts has been recognised for her contribution to Indigenous Arts in Australia.

"It's quite honouring, particularly when I think of the people who have gone before me and how they've laid down those paths," she said.

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Mr Mehta, who grew up in India where extreme poverty is a daily reality, said it was important for communities t have empathy.

"If we don't have empathy towards our communities, towards people who are not in a position to help themselves or to people who we owe it to, who else is going to do it?" he said.

Fellow honourees including singer-songwriter Kate Cebrano, entertainer Frankie J Holden,  radio and TV host Amanda Keller, Western Australia's first female governor Kerry Sanderson and America's Cup-winning captain John Bertrand.

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove said the 771 Australians being honoured were role models who gave without any thought of recognition or personal gain.

"We are a stronger, safer and more caring nation because of them," he said.

Queen's birthday honours by the numbers

- 771 Australians honoured

- 565 feature in the General Division of the Order of Australia

- Most Gen Div recipients from the community sector (246), medicine (53), sport (35)

- 206 recognised through meritorious and military awards

General division of the Order of Australia

- 379 male recipients, 186 female

- 13 appointed Companions of the Order of Australia (AC) for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or to humanity at large

- 56 appointed Officers of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or humanity at large
- 126 made Members of the Order of Australia (AM) for service in a particular locality or field of activity, or to a particular group

- 370 awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service worthy of a particular recognition

Military division of the Order of Australia

- Two appointed Officers (AO Mil)

- 12 appointed Members (AM Mil)

- Nine awarded Medals (OAM Mil)

Military awards

- One Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)

- Two Distinguished Service Medals (DSM)

- Four Commendations for Distinguished Service

- Four Bars to the Conspicuous Service Cross

- 27 Conspicuous Service Crosses (CSC)

- 25 Conspicuous Service Medals (CSM)

- Two Meritorious Unit Citations

Meritorious awards

- 41 Public Service Medals (PSM)

- 30 Australian Police Medals (APM)

- 31 Australian Fire Service Medals (AFSM)

- Five Ambulance Service Medals (ASM)

- 11 Emergency Service Medals (ESM)

- with AAP

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