Australia Day honours: Brett Sutton, David Koch, Sandra Sully, Bill Henson among honourees

Controversial Covid-19 figure Dr Brett Sutton is among Australians recognised on the Australia Day Honours List.

The 54-year-old doctor has been appointed to the Order of Australia (AO) “for distinguished service to the people of Victoria through public health administration and governance, and to medicine”.

Dr Sutton became a very familiar face during the pandemic as Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, overseeing the state’s health as it was hit by the virus.

He became a divisive figure as the state introduced tough measures to battle Covid-19, including months in lockdown in an attempt to get rid of the virus.

He said it was a position “that nearly crushed” him as he juggled long hours, death threats and conspiracy theories.

He has since stepped down from the CHO position that made him a household name and is now working as the director of health and biosecurity at CSIRO.

Dr Sutton began his public health career in 2011 when he was appointed as the Senior Public Health Officer of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control.

Before moving into government, Dr Sutton was an emergency department doctor at hospitals in Tasmania and Victoria before a three-year humanitarian stint working as a doctor in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Timor-Leste.


Photographer Bill Henson – AM

Photographer Bill Henson has also been awarded in this year’s list.

He has been appointed an officer of the Order of Australia for his “distinguished service to the visual arts as a photographer, and to the promotion of Australian culture.”

He is an acclaimed artist – described as one of the most important photographers of our time – but his works have caused controversy, most notably in 2008 when one of his exhibitions featuring nude photographs of a 13-year-old girl was shut down by police in Sydney.

Complaints were made that the images were child pornography and sparked an intense debate at the time about art. Actor Cate Blanchett and then NSW Art Gallery director Edmond Capon were among those who defended Henson.

No charges were laid aft the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions advised police not to press indecency charges.

“It has been profoundly humbling to witness the depth of support for my work in these past weeks,” Henson said in a statement in the aftermath.

“Of course I recognise that much of this support came from the desire of many people to voice their commitment to more general principles.

“It is reassuring to see existing laws, having been rigorously tested, still provide a framework in which . . . expression of ideas can occur.”

David “Kochie” Koch – AM

After 21-years as co-host of one of the most recognisable shows on Australian television, David Koch will be honoured as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to media as a television presenter and to economic journalism.

‘Kochie’ has been a regular on television sets since 2002 when he began co-hosting Sunrise, but the 67-year-old initially trained as an accountant before starting a career in journalism as a cadet for The Australian in 1980.

He is regarded as one of the creators of personal finance media in Australia, founding Personal Investment magazine in 1985 and the Australian Financial Press (AFP) in 1990 among several other publications.

He also spent 11 years as a presenter on 2GB from 1990 to 2001 and a journalist at the Business Review Weekly Group from 1982 to 1990.

After a 21-year tenure at Seven, Koch holds the title of Australia’s longest-serving breakfast host, broadcasting a whopping 16,000 hours of live tv over 5300 shows.

Mr Koch has also worked to help Australian business owners through various endeavours , and has been president of AFL club Port Adelaide since 2012.

Journalist Sandra Sully – AM

Sandra Sully is a staple on Aussie TV screens having kept the country up to date with the latest news every night since the 1990s.

Sully has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Australia Day honours.

She said she was “very humbled and honoured” to appointed a be recognised for her significant service to the media, to charitable organisations, and to the community.

“It is a privilege to be a journalist and work in a profession which I believe in and its ability to shine the light on inequality and how to bring about change,” Ms Sully said.

“My role has given me many amazing opportunities and I am so grateful to be able to give back to the community in areas I am passionate about.”

Ms Sully continues to champion journalism standards by working as an advocate for the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, and previously holding an advisory board member positions for the Walkley Awards between 2015 to 2019.

“I have always strived to honour my profession and raise the bar with the issues I believe need to be highlighted and where I can make a difference,” she said.

“I would like to thank all the many people who have supported and guided me along the way. Especially my dedicated and hardworking colleagues, my loving family, supportive friends and mentors.”

Outside of journalism, Ms Sully also has worked tirelessly representing several community groups as ambassador, including Spinal cure Australia, Adopt Change, Multiple Sclerosis and DoSomething.

“It certainly is a little surreal but I do feel incredibly grateful, that through my profession I have been able use a platform to raise issues I’m very passionate about, which includes societal inequality, women’s issues, finding a cure for spinal cord injuries and raising the profile of Hockey in Australia,” Ms Sully said.

“I have always been passionate about health and fitness and have spent time with many Australians who are wheelchair bound.

“Having met Superman (Christopher Reeve) more than 20 years ago, I made a commitment then to help try and find a cure for spinal cord injuries.

“Australian researchers are at the forefront of finding a cure and it’s now no longer a matter of if, but when.

“These injuries don’t just happen on the sporting field, but also on our roads, our racetracks and across Australia through incidental accidents. It can happen to anyone at anytime.”

Ms Sully has also been heavily involved in Hockey Australia, holding roles as vice president and board member throughout her tenure between 2014 to 2019.

Children’s author Pamela Allen -AM

Beloved children’s author and illustrator Pamela Kay has been recognised for her significant service to literature, appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

The New Zealand-born author has published more than 50 children’s books including Who Sank the Boat, Mr McGee, Felix and Hetty’s Day Out.

Ms Allen, 89, has had a decorated career since she published her first book, Mr Archimedes’ Bath in 1980.

Her talents have seen her be awarded with the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005, and several literary awards including the Best Early Child Book winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, 2004.

Ms Allen spent most of her career in Sydney before moving back across the ditch in 2004.

Eight of her popular children’s books have been adapted for the stage by Patch Theatre Company and performed at the Sydney Opera House, while also experiencing success in its Australian and New Zealand runs.

Paralympian Ellie Cole – AM

Retired sportswoman Ellie Victoria Cole has been appointed Member of the Order of Australia for her significant service to sport as an advocate for diversity and inclusion.

The most decorated Australian female Paralympian of all time has represented her country at the highest level.

Having survived a childhood cancer – where her leg was amputated – Ms Cole went on to excel in the swimming pool.

Her skills in the pool quickly impressed coaches and talent scouts after swimming became part of her rehabilitation program.

She led the the Australian Paralympic team out in Tokyo as their flag bearer in 2021 and was the Australian swim team captain for the Games.

As a strong advocate for inclusion and diversity, Ms Cole has held several roles promoting various campaigns across the country.

The 32-year-old has previously been recognised for her sportsmanship winning the Australian Women’s Health Sport Awards outstanding woman in sport award in 2022 and Cosmopolitan Magazine’s 2015 sportswoman of the year.

Ms Cole also received the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2014.

Penny Fowler – AM

News Corp executive Penny Fowler has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for her work with artistic and charitable organisations in the Australia Day honours.

The company’s Community Ambassador said she had been inspired by the women in her own family.

“I’m a mother of five and I have great role models like my mother (Janet Calvert-Jones) and my grandmother (the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch),’’ Mrs Fowler said.

Mrs Fowler became chairman of the Herald & Weekly Times in 2013, and at the same time, was made Chairman of the Good Friday Appeal which has raised more than $444m for Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital since its inception in 1931.

“I want to thank my uncle, Rupert Murdoch, for giving me the opportunity to chair the Herald & Weekly Times and the Good Friday Appeal. And from that, I have been given opportunities to be involved with other organisations.

“I am very passionate about everything I do including the Good Friday Appeal.”

But her work extends to a range of other significant organisations including chairing the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra and, last October, she was elevated to chair the board of Melbourne’s historic Royal Botanic Gardens.

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