Latest News

New Branch Membership Officer – Michael Maher OAM

Michael Maher OAM

As Branch Membership Officer it is my role to act as a conduit between the Branch and the National office on all aspect of membership i.e change of address, change contact details etc.

Recently I was appointed together with three other committee members to look at all issues of membership and provide a list of recommendations to the full committee for their consideration on a way forward.

The subcommittee is on track to submit its report in early April 2020.


Standing – John Cootes OAM | John Land OAM | Gionni DiGravio OAM | Michael Green OAM | Jack McNaughton OAM
Sitting – Alex Zelinsky AO FAA FIEEE | Kay Lane OAM | Thomas Boulton AM | Photo – Bill Hanley OAM

The Hunter Regional Group enjoyed a luncheon at the Cardiff RSL Club on Saturday 22nd February 2020 to welcome the OA Australia Day recipients of the Region.

June Cameron AM hosted the day and extended special congratulations to all of the new recipients and a warm welcome to those in attendance at the luncheon.

Five of the twelve local recipients were able to attend the luncheon with family and friends – Thomas Boulton AM, John Cootes OAM, Gionni Di Gravio OAM, Kay Lane OAM, John Land OAM.

Ron Sharpe OAM, the New South Wales Branch Regional Coordinator attended the luncheon. He advised those present of current happenings at the National and State levels and proposed a toast to the Order of Australia.

The special guest speaker on the day was Professor Alex Zelinsky AO FAA FIEEE, Vice Chancellor and President of the University of Newcastle. He delivered an extremely interesting insight into his background and the education system with special emphasis on the University of Newcastle.

Fellowship and a wonderful lunch were enjoyed by all in attendance. The venue was comfortably full with 137 members and guests in attendance.

Future activities planned by the Order of Australia Hunter Regional Group are Morning Teas at Port Stephens on Wednesday 17 June 2020 and Wallsend Diggers on Wednesday 15th July 2020 (subject to the corona virus situation at the time).


Acting Branch Convenor Mr Grahame Gooding, OAM
Phone: 0266281747 E

2020 Annual Branch Luncheon and Appointment of New Committee Sunday 29th March, 2020

Welcome members to 2020,

Firstly, may I congratulate the many Awardees who have been honoured in the past two years. I know that for most, the awards came as a great and unexpected surprise, so well done to you all.

We aim to hold a luncheon get together of the Branch each year. The next Annual Luncheon will be held on Sunday 29th March at the Alstonville Bowling and Sports Club at 12.00 for 12.30pm, and I would extend a warm welcome to you and your partner to attend this event

As many of you will be aware, our former Branch Convenor, the late Mr Don Johnston OAM passed away suddenly on the 10th March, 2019, as we were organising the 2019 function. Don was the founding convenor of the Branch and had been instrumental in organising the functions since 2010. His leadership will be greatly missed by the many community organisations he was involved in. We again express our condolences to his family, and especially daughter Alison who was his personal secretary and adviser.

During 2018 the third person on our Committee, Dr Sue Page AM, moved from the district and resigned from the committee, so we were already planning to form a new committee last year when Don Passed away.

Consequently, following our luncheon, we will have a brief meeting to form a new committee of at least three members. The tasks are minimal, being only to organise this function, and to act as bank signatories, so please consider volunteering yourself for this position.

I look forward to you joining with us as we share a meal, meeting old and new members and their guests, and listening to our guest speaker, Mr Barry Nash OAM.

Grahame Gooding OAM.

Acting Convenor

Mr Barry Nash OAM

Barry Nash OAM

Barry Nash OAM

Barry Nash received a Medal of the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2015 for his service to veterans, their families and the community of Ballina.

Whilst he was very pleased to receive the honour, he felt that Trudie (his wife of 60 years) should have also been included.

Barry and Trudie moved to Ballina in 1991 and quickly established themselves in their community. In 1992, Barry became a Legatee in the Ballina division of Far North Coast Legacy, a volunteer role in which he supported the widows and families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, or whose health has been affected by war service. He was the Allocations Officer from 2005, and on the Divisional executive for many years where he subsequently held a variety of positions. Barry retired to the Legacy Reserve in 2016.

Barry has also been active in the Returned and Services League (RSL) and is a past vice-president of the Ballina RSL Sub-Branch. For 27 years he was vice-president of the Ballina Naval Association.

Barry was on the board of management for the Ballina Ex Services Home aged-care facility and from 1998-2007, was on the accreditation committee. He also has been a supporter of the RSL LifeCare’s Florence Price Gardens.

As well for many years Barry was the parade marshal for the Ballina Anzac Day parade, with his voice booming out the order to “quick march”.

AM and OAM recipients and partners at the 2017 luncheon


Australia Day dawned on Sydney Harbour with the weather on its best behaviour yet again continuing the bout of excellent weather experienced in recent years on this most important of National Days. The NSW Branch Chairman, Peter Falk OAM and committee members welcomed everyone, inviting them to enjoy the iconic surroundings and the day’s wonderful activities. The Branch harbour cruise is gaining in popularity each year and on this occasion a new attendance record was achieved when 169 members and their guests boarded the Captain Cook 111 to take in the sights and enjoy the festivities as well as the hospitality provided on board.

The navy flagship HMAS Canberra soon took up its position in the middle of the harbour in the vicinity of the renowned harbour bridge and all was in readiness for the “Salute to Australia” ceremony at the conclusion of which was followed by a 21gun salute. It was noticed that instead of defence air and watercraft being parked on the deck there were several RFS fire trucks displayed in their place and it was later learned that the crew had played host to a number of NSW RFS volunteers to honour the bravery and dedication to duty of all volunteers in the face of horrendous fires recently experienced by many people.

Among the many activities enjoyed by the group was the “ferrython” including the ferry race in which the competing ferries were decked out in many colourful flags and banners. Several helicopters performed an aerial ballet and as part of the “Salute to Australia” 3 RAAF fighter jets paid a visit and performed outstanding aerial displays and a later visit was made by a Qantas A380 aircraft. Other events witnessed were the Tug and Yacht ballet, the Harbour Parade where a myriad of ferries and many other large and small craft all decked out in their colours were a very colourful sight and the Tall Ships race where the entrants under full sail made for an impressive sight.

The refreshments and an appetising lunch were enjoyed by all on board during which time a fundraising effort for the NSW Drought Relief was held, resulting in a total of $3070 being raised. All too soon the cruise came to an end but for those with the stamina there were many other activities that extended until well into the evening to keep the huge crowd at Circular Quay entertained.

Ian McKnight OAM

Dubbo Regional Group Annual Luncheon
Saturday 12 October 2019

Twenty-six recipients of Order of Australia Awards, together with family and friends made up this group of forty-five who attended the function at the Dubbo RSL Memorial Club.

The Dubbo Macquarie Conservation Director, Vivienne Winther brought a small group of performers to entertain the guests prior to the formal luncheon.  AQ special feature of the entertainment was the trombone solo played by Christopher Goud, a student who has been awarded scholarships to continue his music studies.  The Dubbo regional Group appreciates the co-operation of the Conservatorium each year.

It was a pleasure to welcome Mr. John Archer OAM ASM, National Director to the luncheon and to have him propose the toast to the Order and recipients of Awards.

The loyal toast was proposed by Mr. John Mackenzie OAM AFSM.  John has served on the committee of the Dubbo regional group since he received an award in 2007.

One of the 2019 recipients, Roger Fletcher OAM, accepted the invitation to address the participants.  Roger Fletcher is well known to the people of the West through the very successful business operation in Dubbo – Fletcher International.  Having begun using Government and Council owned abattoirs in 1972, by 1988 he commissioned the Dubbo Abattoir as well as expanding into Western Australia.  The family company soon acquired landholdings throughout NSW where there are mixed farming operations as well as some 50,000 sheep held.   In 2008 a rail siding was built adjacent to the abattoir and by 2014 diesel-electric locomotives were in operation allowing the Company to develop efficiencies in logistics management in NSW.  From modest beginnings, Roger Fletcher International in Dubbo employs over a thousand people.   He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Business by Charles Sturt University and has supported many young people by offering part time employment throughout their study years.  It was indeed a pleasure to have Roger and his wife, Gail, join us on this occasion.

The Dubbo Regional Group is pleased to acknowledge the support given to the Group each year by the Dubbo RSL Memorial Club and Rex Airlines.

We thank Dubbo Photo News for supplying the photo

Ruby Rich OAM



The generosity of our Members that attended our Christmas function was unprecedented and truly amazing with a donation of 140 gifts for the children.

The Order of Australia Association NSW is very proud to support such a worthy cause.

Attendees today and in the photos were: (L to R)

  • Ms Laura Giles Relationships Manager, Bear Cottage
  • Mr Peter Falk OAM, Chairman, The Order of Australia Association NSW
  • Ms Narelle Martin OAM, Nursing Unit Manager , Bear Cottage
  • A/Prof John Gullotta AM, Events & Public Relations Manager, The Order of Australia Association NSW
  • Mrs Gail Dunne OAM, Treasurer, The Order of Australia Association NSW

New England North West Branch
The Order of Australia Association

The assembled guests


Fifty-three regional Order of Australia recipients and their guests attended a luncheon hosted by the New England North West Branch of the Order of Australia Association at Tattersall’s Hotel Armidale on Saturday 2nd November. Despite the terrible drought and fires many attendees travelled great distances to attend this annual event which celebrates the achievements and community contributions of our wonderful citizens.

Eight new awardees for 2019 attended and a toast was proposed to them by committee member Bruce Stewart OAM of Tamworth. Guests were enthusiastic about the quality of the meal and venue thanks to a generous offer by member John Cassidy AO.

The event was organised by committee members Maria Hitchcock OAM (Armidale) and Garnet Wood OAM (Tamworth) and attended by Jim Mein AM – Deputy Chair of NSW OAA. Well-known children’s author Sophie Masson AM gave a fascinating account of the life of Ned Kelly – the subject of one of her best seller books. 

Coffs Coast Regional Group also taking in the areas of MACKSVILLE-WOOLGOOLGA

This event was the first for the new Convenor, Anne Stewart OAM, the author of this report.

Nine people out of a possible 24 attended with several apologies due to age related medical issues and family obligations. They all expressed disappointment and hopefully next year we will have a better attendance.

The guest speaker was the Coffs Harbour City Council Mayor, Denise Knight. She spoke briefly about the value of volunteers in our communities.

There were 14 guests altogether, including Laurie and Barbara Smith OAM (Regional Convenor for Hastings RG.) who drove from Port Macquarie to support me. Laurie was very helpful getting me set-up with paperwork and protocol etc.

The day, despite one person saying they were coming and not turning up which threw out the table arrangements, and the Mayor only having an hour to spare due to a scheduled TY interview of which I was not aware, the day appeared to be a great success. The atmosphere- or vibe as our Village Manager stated – was very relaxed and happy. Once again, Laurie and Barbara Smith can take a lot of credit for that. The Mayor was so relaxed we had to remind her that she needed to leave which she appeared to do reluctantly.

The venue seemed to suit everyone, and the Village Chef and Staff were very professional, serving a delicious meal which was appreciated by all there on the day.I wish to make special mention of Mrs. Patricia Roser OAM, Mrs. Betty Wright OAM and Mrs. Dorothy Hays OAM who helped me prior to the day and on the day. I also wish to acknowledge the excellent support I had from our Village Manager, Lexi Connor and her Assistant, Helen Davis. They went beyond the call of duty prior to and on the day. Laurie would attest to that, I am sure.

I look forward to our next Luncheon and hoping to see more of our members and guests in attendance next time.

Anne Stewart OAM
Convenor – Coffs Coast Order of Australia Association


I have always held that the community is only as strong as the support it gets.
That is challenged these days through more and more couples each working with less available time for community service, and by media’s too often divisive reporting and opinionizing which often alienates citizens on the grounds of race, religion, gender and financial status.

Coupled with these challenges is the inability for so many citizens to see community diversity as a rich gift for community harmony and social inclusion.

For me in my many years of community service, I have worked hard to explain that we each must understand that the reasons we are each different must be understood, valued and encouraged. Just imagine if we are all alike? I would fear that we either kill or reject each other, or be so alike that we would bore the others. Either way, progressive community building for a positive future would be greatly challenged.

Awardees Luncheon 2019

Community building is so dependent and enriched by using each other’s skills, talents and experience, because so much more can be done and achieved by teams with greater depth, commitment and capability. As a speaker opined recently at the Annual Abrahamic Faiths Conference in Sydney: “we should all be promoting human fraternity that is universal.” Another speaker spoke of “othering” which is “learning about the other so that clears up misconceptions and false ideas inherited by past polemics and in so doing changes our views.”

I congratulate each of the Order of Australia awardees here today on your honour and your recognised contributions. Your recognition, no matter what it is, has benefitted the community, and please do not hang up your proverbial boots as there is more to be done. You can continue to lead the way to community harmony and social inclusion. You can also encourage others through many ways, such as your example, mentoring and continued hands on support.

It is interesting that the average age of awardees is around 50 plus years of age and there is a gender disproportion favouring men, yet my personal experience is that women provide more local and indeed wider afield contributions than we men. This is particularly so in local communities from which so many Order of Australia medals come. My school English teachers would shudder with exasperation that I would use a key word twice in a paragraph, but I am going to repeat “indeed”. Indeed, the outgoing Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove encouraged awardees and the general community to nominate more women for an Order of Australia. That is a challenge I give each of you here today.

Of interest to me as well is that 46 per cent of Australians have at least one parent born out of Australia which may be a reason that the Order of Australia Awards are still inadequately understood, recognised and maybe resulting in fewer nominations.
I also need to promote The Order of Australia Association as we need each of the new awardees to become members if you have not already done so, so that the Association can do more to promote the Order of Australia Awards, and encourage younger women and men to be more involved in community leadership and building. In fact, community building is critical to Australia’s ongoing success as a nation, to peace and for a better world.

The Association hosts many events on a State and regional basis such that the state of NSW annually organises two new awardees luncheons, an annual members luncheon, morning tea interest discussions, visits to key institutional locations such as our latest to the Richmond Air Base as well as luncheons through our sixteen regions. This year’s annual luncheon featured our new State Governor, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beasley AO QC, who challenged us with an address entitled “How do we build an ethical Australia without the need for legislation?” This address is featured on our Branch website.

We also conduct an annual Youth Community Service Award in memory of the late Justice John Lincoln across all government and private schools in our state and the twenty-five winners receive their award from the Governor . In fact, they will be at Government House in a fortnight’s time. We must all support and encourage our youth for they are leaders today and particularly for the future. We are also in the process of establishing an alumni of these winners where we will be offer mentoring, leadership training and encouragement.

Please join the Association and once again, congratulations to the Queen’s Birthday Order of Australia Awardees as community builders and please continue your building of community harmony and help us greatly improve social inclusion as well.

2020 Tour information

You are invited to join on a fully escorted 10 day tour of Gallipoli/Turkey in May 2020, followed immediately by a 9 day tour of the battlefields of Western Front, exclusively for members.

This fully escorted tour is reserved only for members and their guests.

Highlights of the Turkey tour led by author and historian Dr John Basarin OAM will be visits to Gallipoli Battlefields [Anzac Cove, Lone Pine, Chunuk Bair, Shrapnel Gully, The Nek, Ari Burnu, Quinn’s Post, Krithia and Helles], Troy, Pergamum, Ephesus and Istanbul.

Western Front tour highlights, led by historian Garry Snowden OAM, will include cities of Paris, leper, Amiens and Arras and the battlefields of Men in Gate, Polygon Wood, Passchendaele, Fromelles, Bullecourt, Pozieres, Compiegne and Villers-Bretonneux.

You can choose to tour Turkey on its own, the Western Front on its own, or combine the two. Approximate costs are:-

  1. Turkey $3399.00 per person twin/double share. $495.00 single supplement.
  2. Western Front $4499.00 per person twin/double share. $990.00 single supplement.
  3. Combined $8298.00 Per person twin/double share. $1485.00 single supplement. (includes Istanbul to Paris flight).

All accommodation, breakfasts, several meals, site entrance fees, coach travel, sightseeing, services of professional tour guides are included.

Not included are international airfares from Australia, insurance, some meals and expenses of personal nature.

Please register your expression of interest at your earliest opportunity as this tour will book out quickly. Further details can be supplied on request by contacting Alan Valpied at italktravel & cruise Ballarat on Phone 03 5333 5913 during business hours, or email

More information available here –