In the Australian honours system appointments to the Order of Australia confer recognition for outstanding achievement and service. The order has four levels (follow links for academic recipients and short citations) :
- The Companion of the Order of Australia is awarded for “eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service” to Australia or humanity at large.
- The Officer of the Order is awarded for “distinguished service”.
- The Member of the Order is awarded for “significant service”.
- The Medal of the Order is awarded for “service”.
While an award at any level is obviously noteworthy, some of the distinctions are, to put it politely, quite baffling (why is person X is adjudged worthy of an Officer while person Y is judged to deserve “only” a Medal?).
People with TAFE/VET backgrounds hardly feature. John Maddock of Box Hill Institute was awarded a Member and one Gregory Shannon was awarded a Medal for service to the building and construction industry through vocational training and education. The musician Dobe Newton’s Medal citation does mention that he has been teaching at a TAFE since 1976.
And what to make of the award of Medals to John Schwarz and Rosalie Schwarz, who helped establish the African AIDS Foundation, involved in programs to support community-based organisations to limit the spread of HIV infection. All voluntary, it seems. Maybe there’s another story but you’d think it might be seen as at least “significant service”.