The Governor-General of Australia, the Hon. David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), has announced Honours and Awards for 1,191 Australians, including awards in the Order of Australia (General and Military Divisions), meritorious awards and recognition for distinguished and conspicuous service.
Well-known Sri Lankan-Australian community worker Dushyanthi Thangiah has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the community through social welfare organisations.
Dushy was born to Sri Lankan parents with strong ties to India – both grandmothers are Indians! In December 1988, Dushy and her husband Ranjit migrated to Australia after spending several years in Singapore.
“Community work runs in my blood. My mother and sisters are all in it. Working for the community gives me a real sense of purpose and keeps me grounded.”
For Dushy, the greatest impact of community work is reducing the gap of disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. She helps achieve this goal by providing culturally appropriate service responses to those who come to social welfare organisations for support.
“Working for the community gives me a real sense of purpose and keeps me grounded. I genuinely feel blessed to have the life I have been granted and be able to do the work I have been chosen to do.”
The idea of being awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia was definitely a surprise, she adds:
“I am still trying to process it. It is such a prestigious award.”
Notably, for the first time since the Order of Australia was established in 1975, the majority of recipients in the General Division are women – recognised with 465 awards (50.6%).
Similarly, there is gender parity or better at the three highest levels in the Order – 50% of the appointments to the Companion of the Order of Australia are for women; 52% of the appointments to the Office of the Order of Australia are for women; and 53% of the appointments to the Member of the Order of Australia are for women.
Over 43 per cent of awards (397 in total) were for outstanding service or achievement in the community. The Governor-General has prioritised ensuring the Order reflects the diversity of our community. He added:
“Each recipient has something in common: someone nominated them. The Order of Australia belongs to each of us because nominations come from the community. In honouring today’s recipients, I also encourage all Australians to consider nominating someone they admire who has had a significant impact in the community.”
In addition to the 919 recipients of awards in the General Division of the Order of Australia (6 AC, 46 AO, 246 AM and 621 OAM), today’s Honours list includes: 19 recipients of awards in the Military Division of the Order of Australia (3 AO, 11 AM and 5 OAM), 199 Meritorious awards, and 54 Distinguished and Conspicuous service decorations.
The Governor-General said in a statement:
“Recipients have made substantial contributions and had a significant impact at the local, national or international level. Some are volunteers, others have had a remarkable impact in professional roles – many have done both. They are all inspiring and their service is valued by us all.”
This list also includes 73 Australians recognised for their contribution in support of Australia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.