AMBER VERNETTI WRITES- This week Australia celebrated 2015’s Australia Day, a national holiday which commemorates the 1788 arrival of British ships at Port Jackson in New South Wales and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain under Governor Arthur Phillip. In celebration of this day, awards and appointments to the Order of Australia, an order of chivalry established in 1975 to recognize Australian citizens for their achievement and service, were given to deserving members of media and advertising among other industries.
Network Ten’s Jessica Rowen, co-host for Studio Ten, was among the appointed members (AM) of the Order of Australia. She admits to being “incredibly humbled.” Rowen was recognized for her “significant service to the community as an ambassador, campaigner and advocate for mental health policy reform, and to the broadcast media.” Her passion for improving mental health policy stems from her mother’s battle with mental illness and her own post-pregnancy depression. She said, “Unfortunately for mental illness there is still so much discrimination and stigma that surrounds it. And there shouldn’t be.”
Among the other AMs were current affairs reporter George Negus and broadcaster Gerald Stone, who have both worked over 50 years in the media industry. Negus and Stone worked at Nine Network’s 60 Minutes with Stone as executive producer. Their successful careers in journalism have earned them wide acclaim and access to the Order of Australia.
Radio personality Jonathan “Jono” Coleman was among those who were awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). Coleman earned the medal due to his work for Australian radio networks Triple M, Triple J, and UK’s Virgin Radio along with his efforts in community service, which include St. Edmund’s School for children with impairments, Schizophrenia Research Institute, and Radio for the Print and Handicapped. In reaction to receiving the OAM, he said, “I think it’s basically for the amount of charity work that I’ve done, but also that I’ve survived on television and radio over the last 35 years.”
This year’s Australia Day lands on a Monday which means no Monday blues for most Australians. Aussie or not, we can all use an excuse to celebrate.