Melbourne ethicist and CWL leading light in Australia Day honours list

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The late Dr Nick Tonti Filippini . Photo: Julian Kingma, Fairfax Media
The late Dr Nick Tonti Filippini . Photo: Julian Kingma, Fairfax Media

Revered philosopher-ethicist Dr Nick Tonti Filippini who passed away in 2014 and leading Catholic Women’s League light Moya Potts were among the Catholic religious, teachers, and volunteers honoured for their civic contributions as part of the 2016 Australia Day Honours.

A prolific author with an international reputation and Associate Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne, Dr Tonti-Filippini was also Australia’s first hospital ethicist.

Governor-General and Chancellor of the Order of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove (Retd), expressed his “sincere gratitude for your contribution to our nation” to the hundreds of Australians who were honoured. “We are fortunate as a community to have so many outstanding people willing to dedicate themselves to the betterment of our nation and it is only fitting that they have today been recognised through the Australian Honours system.”

Chair of the Council of the Order of Australia, Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston (Retd) said the awards recognise service across a broad range of fields.

“They are public recognition of people who provide outstanding community service and whose achievements enhance national identity,” he said. “These awards also recognise the ‘quiet achievers’ in our midst. They are people who serve the community, but do not seek accolades.”

Tennis players Rod Laver and Lleyton Hewitt and former politician Brendan Nelson were among other high-profile recipients.

Continuing the campaign

Moya Potts (right) with her youngest daughter Emily, one of three women behind the Australia Day honours nomination.
Moya Potts (right) with her youngest daughter Emily, one of three women behind the Australia Day honours nomination.

As Rosie Batty’s tenure as Australian of the Year comes to an end, one new Member of the Order of Australia has vowed to carry on her campaign against domestic violence.

Moya Potts, Sydney mother and grandmother and doyenne of Catholic Women’s League (CWL), was appointed a Member of the Order Of Australia for her significant service to the Catholic Church and to the community as an advocate for women.

Mrs Potts led CWL Sydney as president from 2003-20008 and 2011-2013, and is now NSW state president of the organisation.

“It’s a great, great honour to have represented the women of Catholic Women’s League for so many years,” she said.

The CWL national conference last September zeroed in on domestic violence and human trafficking as issues for the organisation to tackle at a local, state and national level.

While Ms Batty will relinquish the title of Australian of the Year, Mrs Potts said the campaign against domestic violence will continue.

“I don’t think that ever stops,” she said.

“And for CWL, that continuing of making the world a better place for women and children and families is paramount to our organisation. “It is essential that the issue of domestic violence is dealt with appropriately, because it is a silent killer.”

Mrs Potts said she was “very humbled” by the Australia Day honour, and said she shared it with more than 4000 CWL members nation-wide.

“I represent a body of women who are just such amazing women, and I walk this journey with them,” she said.

“There are many unsung heroes in our organisation, from our grassroots members through to our branches and our national office, so hopefully this honour reflects on their efforts as well.”

Mrs Potts has four children and four grandchildren, and has been married to husband Harry for 40 years. The family will gather on Australia Day to celebrate the award.

“I have shared this journey with my husband and my family; they have been a great support to me. They have always known how important CWL is to me.”

She trained as a nurse and midwife, was vice-president of the Mothers Committee of St Patrick’s College, Strathfield from 1991-1992.

Previously she was vice-president of the Mothers Board of Seisen International School and a member of the Japan, Australia, New Zealand Ladies Group while based in Tokyo in the 1980s.

Australia Day honours for Catholics and those who have served the Church

Susan Bartlett Alexander of Gordon, NSW, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community, particularly to children’s welfare. She served on the board of directors of Marist Youth Care from 2002-2014.

Paula Barry of Brighton, Victoria, was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for her service to primary education contributions to community organisations. A teacher, and later principal, for more than 45 years, Ms Barry also presided over the Gardenvale branch of Vinnies, and was a strong supporter of World Youth Day 2008. She has supported St Columban’s Mission Society for more than 30 years, and also lent her support to the Australian Conductive Deafness Foundation, the Alfred Foundation, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Theatre Company, and Opera Australia. Ms Barry is a parishioner of St James church.

Newport woman Mignon Bonwick was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to homeless youth in Sydney. Ms Bonwick was co-ordinator, teacher and manager of Key College, an independent high school for homeless youth run by Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets from 1996-2015.

John Breen of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the Indigenous community through the preservation of languages, to the development of orthographies, and to education. Mr Breen has served as an independent linguist for the Institute for Aboriginal Development since 1981, and was the principal researcher for the Arandic Languages Dictionary Program from 1984-1991. He presided over the Catholic parish social justice group, Alice Springs Friends of East Timor, for a decade from 1991. Mr Breen worked with teacher trainees to develop the capacity for bilingual education in the Northern Territory from 1986-2012. He also provided linguistic evidence for Native Title Claims for most language claimant groups in Western Queensland.

Judith Brewer of Mudgegonga, Victoria, was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for her distinguished service to people with a disability, particularly to those with autism spectrum disorders, to refugees living in rural areas, to women, and to education. Ms Brewer, a former chair of Catholic Education Wodonga, was inaugural chair of the Co-operative Research Centre for Living with Autism, a life member and former co-patron of Autism Spectrum Australia, and founding convenor of Autism Asperger’s Advocacy Australia.

Dr Jane Carolan of Kew in Victoria was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community as an historian, archivist and author. An archivist and historian for Melbourne education organisations, Dr Carolan has worked with Loreto Mandeville Hall, Toorak, St Mary’s College Council at the University of Melbourne, and Jesuit Communications.

Patricia Coffey of Seymour, Victoria, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the communities of Shepparton and Seymour. A pre-marriage education trainer with CatholicCare Sandhurst, she is also a life member of the organisation.

Tasmanian Emeritus Professor John Coll was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to tertiary education as an administrator, academic and researcher, to the environment, and to the community. Emeritus Professor Coll was Pro-Vice-Chancellor of research at Australian Catholic University from 2000-2006,

Pro Vice-Chancellor of academics from 1996-2000, and Honorary Emeritus Professor from 2006.
Victorian James Duggan of Lucknow was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community of Bairnsdale. Mr Duggan has volunteered in his local Vinnies store, and a member and volunteer visitor more than a decade. He is also a member of the St Mary’s parish restoration committee.

Francis Dullard of Lockington, Victoria, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to the community through a range of organisations including St Joseph’s Rochester parish, where he served many years as a member of the parish financial council. Mr Dullard was also president and district chairman of Rochester Knights of the Southern Cross, and remains a life member.

James Dwyer of Mosman, NSW, was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the community through fundraising support for youth, health care and medical education initiatives, and to the law. Mr Dwyer has been a member of St Vincent’s Private Hospital capital campaign board since 2014 and a trustee of St Vincent’s Curran Foundation since 2013. He was director of St Vincent’s and Mater Health Sydney from 2007-2012 and a member of the Fundraising Strategy Committee.

Stephen Elder of East Melbourne was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Catholic Church in Australia, and to the community of Victoria. Mr Elder has been executive director of the Melbourne Catholic Education Office, director of the National Catholic Education Commission, and director of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria since 2006.

Christopher Faisandier of Potts Point was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the education sector, particularly through advisory, strategic human resource and organisational development roles. Mr Faisandier was principal of Sacred Heart College, New Plymouth, New Zealand, from 1985-1990, then principal of Kincoppal-Rose Bay, School of the Sacred Heart, Sydney, until 2005. He was a senior adviser on planning and business development for Bethlehem University, Palestine, from 2012.

Sydney woman Dr Mary Foley was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to public administration in NSW, particularly to the health care sector, to education, and to the community. She was chief executive officer of St Vincent’s and Mater Health from 2000-2008 and served on the Plunkett Centre management body.

Sr Jane Gorey of Ivanhoe, Victoria, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to health care support organisations. Sr Gorey has been a resident carer at Ryder-Cheshire Victorian Homes Ivanhoe since 1995. She is responsible for 95 beds of patients from country areas, or interstate, undergoing medical treatment in Melbourne.

Margaret Griffiths of Mornington, Victoria, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to music education.  She was head of strings at Loreto Mandeville Hall from 1980-1996. She also taught at St Leonard’s College and Shelford Girls’ Grammar.

Deirdre Grusovin of Kensington, NSW, was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the Parliament and the community of NSW, to education administration, and to social welfare. She has been a board member of CatholicCare Sydney since 1997, and an active parishioner of St Joseph’s, Rosebery, for more than 30 years.

Tamara Sloper Harding of Avalon Beach, NSW, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the communities of Timor Leste and Pittwater. She is the social justice ministry convenor at Pittwater parish.

Brother Francis Hennessy of Parkville, Victoria, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to education, and to people who are deaf, or hard of hearing. Br Hennessy was principal of St Joseph’s College, Pasco Vale, from 1998-2000 and was chosen to oversee closing the school in 2010. A Christian Brother, he previously served as principal of St Paul’s College, Ballarat, and has worked as a teacher since the 1960s.

Dr Ronald Holt of Cambewarra, NSW, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to tertiary education, particularly in foreign languages. Dr Holt is an honorary fellow of Australian Catholic University.
Brother Sean Keefe of Donvale, Victoria, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community of Manningham and the people of Timor Leste. He is chaplain to Whitefriars Catholic College for Boys and a councillor for the Carmelite Provincial Chapter of the Province of Australian and East Timor.

Melbourne woman Gendrie Klein-Breteler was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for her significant service to the community, particularly to the disadvantaged, through social welfare organisations, and to women and girls. Ms Gendrie oversaw the health and wellbeing program at Dame Phyllis Frost Women’s Prison from 1999-2014. She served as manager of Women and Girls’ Services from 1993-2011. From 1984-2013 she was also program manager and counsellor of St Kilda Centre. She has been associated with the Good Shepherd Sisters since 1982, as a support worker in the Tahiti Good Shepherd Sisters’ hostel for adolescent girls, then manager and residential care worker at Abbotsford Hostel for adolescent girls. In the 1970s she taught at St Kilda Hostel for adolescent girls and St Clare’s Good Shepherd School.

NSW woman June Lowry was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to the community of Wakool. Mrs Lowry volunteers at St Joseph’s Church, and provides home-cooked meals for sick and/or elderly locals. She coached debutantes and organised balls from 1972-2007.

Brian McCormack of Laggan, NSW, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to local government, and to the community of the Upper Lachlan Shire. Mr McCormack has been chairman of the board of St Mary’s School since the 1990s.

Bass Hill man Thanh Van Nguyen was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Vietnamese community of NSW. In 1982 he founded the Vietnamese Catholic Youth Association and remained its co-ordinator until 1986. He has served as vice-president, vice-chairman, and chairman of the Vietnamese Catholic Community – NSW since 1989.

William Rendell of Surrey Downs in SA was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community, particularly through Rotary. Mr Rendell has volunteered with the Learning Assistance Program at St Francis Xavier’s Regional Catholic School at Wynn Vale since 2005.

Lionel Philip Robberds QC was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the law, to rowing, and to the community. Mr Robberds has been a long-time donor of Good Shepherd Australia and New Zealand and the Marist Mission Centre.

The late Harvey Maxwell Rose, of Avalon Beach, NSW, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to local government and the community. Mr Rose was associate chairman of Mona Vale Zone for the 2004 Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal, and a member of Maria Regina Church.

Victor Rudewych of Mickleham in Victoria was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Ukrainian community of Victoria. Mr Rudewych has been a long-time supporter and benefactor of a range of organisations in the Ukrainian community including Ukrainian Studies Support Fund of the Association of Ukrainians in Victoria, and the department of Ukrainian Studies at Monash University. He also constructed the Convent of the Sisters of St Basil in North Melbourne in 1993.

Fr Carmelo John Sciberras of Summerland Point, NSW, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Catholic Church in Australia, and to the Maltese community of NSW. Ordained in 1964, Fr Sciberras is chaplain to the NSW National Servicemen’s Association and Affiliates and has been a chaplain and crew member of NSW Marine Rescue since 1996. Previously he was chaplain to the NSW Police and several units of the Australian Defence Force.

Ellen Smiddy of Watsonia, Victoria, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to children and the community through social welfare organisations. Ms Smiddy is lay leader of liturgy at St Mary’s parish, Greensborough, deputy catechist co-ordinator, co-ordinator of the Hotham Mission Asylum Seeker Program and Social Justice Group co-ordinator.

Sr Kathleen Tierney of Rosanna, Victoria, was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the community through roles with health, education, aged care, and social welfare organisations, and to the Catholic Church in Australia. Sr Kathleen has been a consultant for the Melbourne archdiocese since 2014. She was board director and Catholic Religious representative for the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry Co-ordinating Committee from 2011-2014. She was deputy chair of Catholic Social Services Victoria from 1994-2000, director of Mercy Family Care Centre Geelong from 1985-1997, and financial administrator from 1981-1985

David Trist of the Sydney suburb of St Marys was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community through a range of organisations. A former member of the Mamre Plains advisory committee, through the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta, Mr Trist was president of the Nepean branch of Legacy and was a founding member of the University of Western Sydney Foundation. He was also associated with the Rotary Club of St Marys, the 15th Australian Infantry Brigade Association of NSW, the Colyton Life Education Centre and the Nepean College of Advanced Education. Mr Trist was a long-time member of St Marys Chamber of Commerce.

Sr Tess Ward of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, particularly as a linguist and educator. Sr Tess has worked as a teacher linguist at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Thamarrurr College, Wadeye, since 2009. She previously worked at Murrupurtiyanuwu Catholic School, Nguiu (now Wurrumiyanga), Bathurst Island working in the Tiwi language, and developed vernacular materials in the Tiwi language for the bilingual program.

Associate Professor David Watson of East Perth in WA was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to medicine, and to medical education, to professional organisations, and to the community. He has been a consulting physician with St John of God Health Care Subiaco since 1977. He served as director of medical services at St John of God Subiaco Hospital from 1990-1994, and on the board of St John of God Health Care from 1989-2004.

Barry Wilde of Beecroft, NSW, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the Parliament of NSW, and to the community of Parramatta. Mr Wilde assisted the integration of Christian Lebanese into the Parramatta community by the facilitation of Our Lady of Lebanon Church and School at Harris Park.

Judith Williams of Yass, NSW, was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to local government, and to the community of Yass. She is a long-time parishioner of St Augustine’s.