Order of Australia

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Order of Australia
Order of Australia.png
Insignia of a Knight/Dame of the Order of Australia
Awarded by
Australian Coat of Arms.png
HM Queen Elizabeth II
Type National Order
Eligibility All living Australian citizens
Awarded for Achievement and merit in service to Australia or humanity
Status Currently constituted
Sovereign Queen Elizabeth II
Chancellor General Sir Peter Cosgrove
Grades (w/ post-nominals)
  • Knight/Dame (AK/AD)[1]
  • Companion (AC)
  • Officer (AO)
  • Member (AM)
  • Medal (OAM)

  • Awarded in:
  •   General Division
  •   Military Division
  •   as an Honorary award
Statistics
Established 14 February 1975
First induction 21 April 1975
Last induction 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours
Total inductees (General & Military Divisions)
AK – 13[1]
AD – 4[1]
AC – 406
AO – 2,303
AM – 8,233
OAM – 19,400[2]
OrderAustraliaRibbon.png Order of Australia (Military) ribbon.png
Ribbons: general division; military division

The Order of Australia is an order of chivalry established on 14 February 1975 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, to recognise Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service. Before the establishment of the order, Australian citizens received British honours.

The order is divided into general and military divisions, with the following grades in descending order of seniority:

  • Knight and Dame of the Order of Australia (AK and AD – General Division only – quota of 4 per annum);[1][3][4]
  • Companion of the Order of Australia (AC – quota of 30 per annum);[4]
  • Officer of the Order of Australia (AO – quota of 125 per annum);[4]
  • Member of the Order of Australia (AM – quota of 300 per annum);[4] and
  • Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM – no quota).[5]

Honorary awards in all grades may be made to deserving non-citizens – these awards are made additional to the quotas.

History[edit]

The Order was established on 14 February 1975 by letters patent of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, and countersigned by the then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. The original Order had three grades: Companion (AC), Officer (AO), and Member (AM), and two divisions: Civil Division and Military Division.

On 24 May 1976, the grade of Knight (AK) and Dame (AD), and the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), were established by The Queen on the advice of Whitlam's successor, Malcolm Fraser, and the Civil Division was renamed the General Division. The grade of Dame/Knight was only awarded in the General Division.

Following the 1983 election, Prime Minister Bob Hawke advised the abolition of the Knight / Dame grade. On 3 March 1986, The Queen co-signed letters patent revoking the grade of Knight and Dame; existing Knights and Dames were not affected by this change. Prime Minister Tony Abbott advised The Queen to reinstate the grade of Dame and Knight on 19 March 2014. The Queen co-signed letters patent to bring this into effect. The change was publicly announced on 25 March, and gazetted on 17 April 2014.[6]

The Queen of Australia is Sovereign Head of the Order,[7] while the Governor-General is Principal Companion/Dame/Knight, (as relevant at the time), and Chancellor of the Order. The Governor-General's Official Secretary is Secretary of the Order.

The original three-level structure of the Order of Australia was modelled closely upon the Order of Canada,[citation needed] though the Order of Australia has been awarded rather more liberally, especially in regard to honorary awards to foreigners. To date, only 20 non-Canadians have been appointed to the Order of Canada, while more than 275 non-Australians have been appointed to the Order of Australia, with more than 30 to the "Companion" grade.[citation needed]

Appointment[edit]

The Order consists of four grades and the medal, in both general and military divisions. Awards of Knighthood and Damehood of the Order are made in the general division only.

While State Governors can present the Officer, Member and Medal of the Order of Australia to their respective state's residents, only the Queen of Australia or Governor-General can present the Knight/Dame and Companion grades of the Order.[8]

The different grades of the Order are awarded according to the recipients' levels of achievement:

Knight/Dame

General Division – 'Extraordinary and Pre-eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or to humanity at large'.
Military Division – Not awarded in the military division.
There is a quota of four per year excluding honorary appointments.

Companion

General Division – 'Eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or to humanity at large'.
Military Division – 'Eminent service in duties of great responsibility'.
Excluding honorary appointments, no more than 25 Companions are appointed in any calendar year.

Officer

General Division – 'Distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or to humanity at large'.
Military Division – 'Distinguished service in responsible positions'.
The quota is set at 100 Officers appointed in any calendar year.

Member

General Division – 'Service in a particular locality or field of activity or to a particular group'.
Military Division – 'Exceptional service or performance of duty'.
The quota is set at 225 Members appointed in any calendar year.

Medal of the Order of Australia

General Division – 'Service worthy of particular recognition'.
Military Division – 'Meritorious service or performance of duty'.
There are no quota limits on awards of the Medal of the Order.

Any person may nominate any Australian citizen for an award. The nominations are reviewed by the Council for the Order of Australia,[9] and then approved by the Governor-General. The Order is awarded on Australia Day and on the Queen's Birthday public holiday in June, when public announcements are made about new awards, on the occasion of a special announcement by the Governor-General, (usually honorary awards), and on the appointment of new Governors-General.

People who are not Australian citizens may be awarded honorary membership of the Order at all grades.

Appointments to the Order are not made posthumously; however, if a nominee dies after accepting an appointment but before the relevant announcement date, the appointment still stands and it is announced as having effect from no later than the date of the nominee's death.

Awardees may subsequently resign from the Order, and also may have their award cancelled by the Governor-General.[10]

Insignia[edit]

General Division ribbon
Military Division ribbon

The badge of the Order of Australia is a convex disc (gold for AKs, ADs and ACs, gilt for AOs, AMs and OAMs) representing the Golden Wattle flower. At the centre is a ring, representing the sea, with the word 'Australia' below two branches of golden wattle. The whole disc is topped by the Crown of St Edward. The AC badge is decorated with citrines, blue enamelled ring, and enamelled crown. The AO badge is similar, without the citrines. For the AM badge only the crown is enamelled, and the OAM badge is plain. The AK/AD badge is similar to that of the AC badge, but with the difference that it contains at the centre an enamelled disc bearing an image of the Coat of arms of Australia.[1]

The star for knights and dames is a convex golden disc decorated with citrines, with a blue royally crowned inner disc bearing an image of the Coat of arms of Australia.[1]

The ribbon of the Order is blue with a central stripe of golden wattle flower designs; that of the military division has additional golden edge stripes. AKs,[1] male ACs and AOs wear their badges on a necklet; male AMs and OAMs wear them on a ribbon on the left chest. Women usually wear their badges on a bow on the left shoulder, although they may wear the same insignia as males, if so desired.

A gold lapel pin for daily wear is issued with each badge of the Order at the time of investiture; AK/AD[1] and AC lapel pins feature a citrine central jewel, AO and AM lapel pins have a blue enamelled centre, and OAM lapel pins are plain.

The Order's insignia were designed by Stuart Devlin.

Royal members of the Order[edit]

Officials of the Order[edit]

Knights and Dames[edit]

The neck badge of a Knight of the Order of Australia appears at the base of the coat of arms of Sir Ninian Stephen.

The grade of Knight (AK) and Dame (AD) of the Order was created by Letters Patent issued by the Queen of Australia on 24 May 1976, on advice from the Fraser Liberal-National government. It was discontinued by her on 3 March 1986 on advice from the Hawke Labor government. Existing knights and dames were not affected by the removal of the grade from the Letters Patent.

During this period, twelve knights and two dames were created, of whom ten of the knights and both of the dames are now deceased.

Following his appointment as prime minister in 2013, Tony Abbott announced the Queen had accepted his advice to again amend the Letters Patent to re-establish the grade of Dame and Knight. This came into effect on 25 March 2014, at which time he announced that Governor-General Quentin Bryce had immediately become a Dame in her capacity as Chancellor of the Order, and that the Governor-General-designate, General Peter Cosgrove, would become Chancellor and Principal Knight on his taking up the appointment of Governor-General on 28 March. Up to four knight/damehoods may be awarded each year. Knights and Dames will be appointed by the Queen of Australia on the advice of the Prime Minister of Australia after consultation with the Chair of the Order of Australia Council.[3][11] The Australian Labor Party continues to oppose knighthoods, and leader of the opposition Bill Shorten stated in March 2014 that the party will again discontinue the position if it wins the next Australian federal election.[12] In the Queen's Birthday honours list for Australia for 2014, New South Wales Governor Marie Bashir was named as a Dame of the Order of Australia.

Educational background of recipients of highest awards[edit]

In December 2010, The Age reported a study of the educational backgrounds of all people who had received Knight/Dame and Companion level awards at that time. It reported that "An analysis of the 435 people who have received the nation's top Order of Australia honours since they were first awarded in 1975, shows they disproportionately attended a handful of elite Victorian secondary schools. Scotch College alumni received the highest number of awards, with 19 former students receiving Australia's [then] highest honour".[13][14]

Order of Australia Association[edit]

On 26 January 1980 recipients of awards in the Order formed the Order of Australia Association. This organisation seeks to aid the members of the order in their pursuits related to the development and maintenance of Australia's culture and traditions. The organisation also attempts to increase awareness of those honoured by the order, since many of their number are not household names, despite their contributions. Branches of the association can be found in all the states and territories of Australia.

Honorary awards[edit]

Awards in the Order of Australia are sometimes made to people who are not citizens of Australia, to honour extraordinary achievements. These achievements, or the people themselves, are not necessarily associated with Australia, although they often are. On 11 July 2010, the Australian Honours website listed appointments for 34 Honorary Companions, 67 Honorary Officers, 86 Honorary Members of the Order of Australia and the award of 88 Honorary Medals of the Order of Australia.[15] Notable honorary awards include:

Charles, Prince of Wales[edit]

Prince Charles was appointed a Knight of the Order of Australia (AK) on 14 March 1981. As he is not an Australian citizen, this would have required the award to be honorary. To overcome this issue, his appointment was created by amendment to the Constitution of the Order of Australia by special Letters Patent signed by The Queen. Hence, the Prince of Wales is a full member in the General Division, not an honorary appointment.[17]

References in popular culture[edit]

The award is parodied in the play Amigos, where the central character is determined to be awarded the AC, and uses persuasion, bribery and blackmail in his (ultimately successful) attempts to get himself nominated for the award.[18]

During the 1996 season of the popular television programme Home and Away, the character Pippa Ross was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her years of service as a foster carer.

Appointment process[edit]

A nomination for an Order of Australia award starts with an Australian citizen filling in a confidential form and submitting it to the Honours Secretariat at Government House in Canberra.[19][20] This form is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act.[21]

The nomination forms are given to the Council for the Order of Australia.[22] Who attends meetings of the council and reasoning as to why a nomination either did or did not result in an appointment is confidential.[23] The council makes recommendations to the governor-general, who presents the order's insignia to new appointees,[24] The council may also advise the governor-general to remove an individual from the order.[25][26]

Announcements of all awards, cancellations and resignations appear in the Commonwealth Gazette. People awarded honours have the option of not having the information appear on the "It's an Honour" website.[27]

Precedence[edit]

"Imperial" honours awarded after 5 October 1992 have been classed as "Foreign awards", and hence have lower precedence than all Australian awards.
(Note, however, that the (original/imperial/British) Victoria Cross, and awards of the monarch, have retained their order of precedence.)


If awarded after 5 October 1992[1]
Preceding Grade Following
Member of the Order of Merit (OM) Knight/Dame Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO)
Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) Companion Knight/Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO/DCVO)
Knight/Dame Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO/DCVO) Officer Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO)
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) Member Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO)
Emergency Services Medal (ESM) Medal Order of St John

If awarded prior to 6 October 1992
Preceding Grade Following
Member of the Order of Merit (OM) Knight/Dame Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG)
Knight/Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) Companion Companion of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH)
Knight Bachelor Officer Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB)
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) Member Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO)
Emergency Services Medal (ESM) Medal Order of St John

See also[edit]

Recipient categories[edit]

Dames of the Order of Australia Australian dames
Knights of the Order of Australia Australian knights
Companions of the Order of Australia Honorary Companions Former Companions
Officers of the Order of Australia Honorary Officers Former Officers
Members of the Order of Australia Honorary Members Former Members
Recipients of the Medal of the Order of Australia       Honorary Recipients of the Medal      

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i The grade of Dame / Knight was established in 1976, disestablished in 1986 without prejudice to preexisting appointments, and reestablished in 2014.
  2. ^ Medal Yearbook 2014. Honiton, Devon: Token. 2014. p. 390. ISBN 978-1-908828-10-1. 
  3. ^ a b "Knights, dames return under Abbott". The Sydney Morning Herald. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d On 3 April 2014, "The Order Of Australia" page on the Governor-General's website advised that there had been an increase in the annual quotas of appointments to the various grades of the Order of Australia:
    • Dame/Knight: increased from 0 to 4 per annum
    • Companion: increased from 25 to 30 per annum
    • Officer: increased from 100 to 125 per annum
    • Member: increased from 225 to 300 per annum
    "The Order Of Australia". www.gg.gov.au. 3 April 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  5. ^ The Medal of the Order of Australia was established 1976.
  6. ^ "Letters Patent amending the Constitution of the Order of Australia". Government Notices Gazette C2014G00635. Commonwealth of Australia. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  7. ^ History, Order of Australia, www.itsanhonour.gov.au
  8. ^ Honours of the Crown, www.monarchist.ca, p.11
  9. ^ Council for the Order of Australia, Order of Australia, www.itsanhonour.gov.au
  10. ^ Resignation and cancellation have occurred up to the Companion level - see List of Companions of the Order of Australia#Former Companions.
  11. ^ "A new honour for pre-eminent Australians". Media release. Office of the Prime Minister of Australia. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Knott, Matthew (28 March 2014). "Bill Shorten would reverse reinstatement of knights and dames if elected prime minister". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  13. ^ Topsfield, Jewel (4 December 2010). "Ties that bind prove a private education has its awards". The Age. p. 11. 
  14. ^ The hard-copy article also published a table of the schools which were ranked in the top ten places:
    Rank School Number of
    ex-students
    Private Public Vic NSW Qld Tas SA WA
    1 Scotch College, Melbourne 19 19 19
    2 Geelong Grammar School 17 17 17
    3 Sydney Boys High School 13 13 13
    =4 Fort Street High School 10 10 10
    Perth Modern School 10 10
    St Peter's College, Adelaide 10 10
    =7 Melbourne Grammar School 9 9 9
    North Sydney Boys High School 9 9
    The King's School, Parramatta 9 9
    =10 Launceston Grammar School 6 6 6
    Melbourne High School 6 6
    Wesley College, Melbourne 6 6
    Xavier College 6 6
    Total 130 73 57 63 41 6 10 10
    100% 56% 44% 48% 32% 5% 8% 8%
  15. ^ "Search Australian Honours – Advanced Search". Its an Honour. Awards and Culture Branch, Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11.  Separate searches conducted for Knights, Companions, Officers, Members and Medals of the Order.
  16. ^ Lisa Millar, Order of Australia for General Petraeus, 4 November 2009, abc.net.au
  17. ^ "Order of Australia – Constitution – Letters Patent – Amendment – 14/03/1981". Comlaw.gov.au. Retrieved 2012-05-17. 
  18. ^ Amigos Reviewer Helen Thomson, 29 June 2004, ArtsReviews – www.theage.com.au
  19. ^ "FAQs". The Order of Australia Association. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  20. ^ "Nominating for Awards". It's an Honour.gov.au. Australian Government. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  21. ^ "Terry Romaro's Order Of Australia". Right To Know. February–April 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2014. "A Freedom of Information request to Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General" 
    "Andrew Laughton's Freedom of Information requests". Right To Know. February–April 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
    "Terry Romaro's Medal of the Order Of Australia". Itsanhonour.gov.au. 8 June 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2014. "For service to the commercial fishing industry" 
  22. ^ "Council for the Order of Australia". It's an Honour - Order of Australia. Australian Government. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  23. ^ "Cancellation or Termination of Order of Australia Awards". Right To Know. February–March 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2014. "A Freedom of Information request to Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General" 
  24. ^ "The Order Of Australia". The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. 2013-06-17. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  25. ^ "Termination of Appointment of Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division made to Dr Leslie Howard". Comlaw.gov.au. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
    "Termination of Appointment of Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division made to Mr Clinton Edward Condon". Comlaw.gov.au. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  26. ^ "Terminations and Cancellations Ordinance - Order of Australia - Amendment - 11/09/2007". Comlaw.gov.au. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  27. ^ "About the Database". Itsanhonour.gov.au. 2007-04-03. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 

External links[edit]