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1 Chairmans Message | The Order of Australia Association
Jim Mein AM

Jim Mein AM NSW Chairman

Dear NSW OAA Members,

In such a short time across our State and other parts of our great Southland, our communities have travelled through drought and bushfires, Covid and lockdowns, untimely downpours and mice plagues, and now to so many powerfully damaging flooding areas. It is times such as these that we are drawn emotionally to the importance of communities, not just close friends and family. So much help is needed, not just now but in the times ahead as those, both known to us, and others not known, rebuild lives, homes, workplaces and livelihoods.

On behalf of the members of The Order of Australia Association NSW Branch, I express our concerns for all affected by the latest ordeals. We are thinking of you all. You are all important to each other.

Your new Branch Committee met on 16th March 2021 and made some key strategic decisions to lift the profile of the Association and the Order of Australia Awards which were publicly criticised after the announcement of this year’s “Australia Day Awards”.

These decisions included:

  1. Co-opted Maria Hitchcock OAM from our New England North West Regional Committee to spearhead the Affiliates programme established in the new Constitution and By-laws
  2. Adopted a Business Plan and Branch budget which include:

o   Introducing affiliate membership within the Branch to accept recipients of other bi-annual Australian awards.

o   More regular communications within our branch on regional and state-wide events, profiles of members, Branch Committee actions, a regularly updated events calendar on our website, and key developments.

o   Resumption of our Youth Community Service Awards which culminate with twenty-five NSW high school students receiving their recognition at Government House on 23rd September (the regions will be encouraged to assist public recognition of local awardees).

o   Recruitment of awardees who are not already Association members.

o   Establishment of Sydney sub-regional, club style luncheon gatherings with Association members as guest speakers; and

o   Providing some facilitating Branch funding to enable regions to be more visibly involved in local projects through member participation, both financially and hands-on.

  1. Closing the relational gap between the Branch Committee and the regions with at least two Branch Committee members present at each regional and sub-regional event: and
  2. Providing financial and other support to regional committees for their administration, publicity and special interest projects, as well as more regular virtual gatherings of regional convenors.
  3. Celebrating our Association’s fortieth Anniversary which Covid-19 prevented last year.

The Committee has allocated the following roles to Its members:

  1. Chairmanship, Branch Nominated Director (myself).
  2. Deputy Chair and Sydney Events and Public Relations- John Gullotta AM with Adrienne Cahalan OAM and Romano Di Donato forming the Events sub-committee
  3. Hon Secretary (Martha Jabour OAM).
  4. Hon Treasurer (Gail Dunne OAM who is also leading the organising of the Sydney Northern Beaches area first sub-regional group luncheon).
  5. Communications and Publicity (Louise Davis AM).
  6. Regional Coordinator and Website (Chris Dunne OAM).
  7. OAA Youth Community Service Awards (Frank Kelleher OAM).

However, we are searching to co-opt a Branch member willing to look after the key Membership role which is to develop and enhance the membership numbers, recording processes and member involvement within NSW.

This excludes the Broken Hill region which relates to the South Australian Branch and the Queanbeyan area which is part of the ACT.

There are sixteen regions under the Branch Regional Coordinator who updates the regional postcodes from time to time.

A Position Description is available.

Please let me know on 0408 660 591 or if you are interested or have a recommended member for me to approach as I am handling this role till a co-option can be made by the Branch Committee.

If you would like to send correspondence to the OAA NSW Branch Committee we have a new address.


As part of our new “Meet our Members” initiative, I am pleased to introduce Niki Norris AM.

Niki is the Chair of the National Child Protection Alliance Australia and in 2017 was invested as a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the community particularly to the rights of children to care and protection and to voice their views and opinions.  She is currently focusing on social policy, youth resilience and leadership (NSW) and the ongoing and damaging effects of trauma caused to children and the protective parent when they become involved in Family Court proceedings.

Niki has been an advocate for children and young people and their families for over a decade.  She was a founding member of the NCPS, held the role of Vice Chair since inauguration and took on the role of Chair in 2017.  Her specialist areas of responsibility within the NCPA have been in Parliamentary Liaison and the setting up of groups of children and their protective parent and what changes are necessary in both State and Federal Law Acts.

You will find more about Niki on our website:

We were very pleased to receive a thank you letter from the Homicide Victims’ Support Group, acknowledging our donation of $2,000 which will go towards helping build “Grace’s Place”.  This will be established to provide support in a safe place where children, teenagers, and their families grieving the death of someone they love through homicide. And share their experiences, receive counselling, be involved in therapeutic programs and learn the skills on how to survive the trauma without their loved one.  Grace’s Place will be a world first – a residential trauma recovery centre.

This donation was made possible through the generosity of our Members and their guests at our recent AGM lunch on 16th March.

(Letter in full on our website.)

A departing thought for you to ponder:

We have much to do in 2021 because we have lost a year of opportunity, like two parallel lines that never meet.

So energetically enjoy 2021, living on the edge of hope, with relationship rebuilding being this year’s big feat.

Jim Mein AM

Jim Mein AM

Jim Mein AM NSW Chairman

Dear Members,


I thank the NSW members for their confidence in electing me as Peter Falk OAM’s successor as Branch Chairman. Peter’s contribution has been particularly significant in these pandemic times with his commitment, humour, pastoral concern for members and business acumen. Each of these has been well appreciated.

 We have a great Branch Committee to serve our members in NSW for the coming year with Dr John Gullotta AM, being our new Deputy Branch Chairman.

 I remain the NSW Branch Nominated Director on the Association’s National Board, Martha Jabour OAM as Branch Secretary, Gail Dunne OAM as Branch Treasurer, and Louise Davis AM as Community Liaison. Frank Kelleher OAM, was re-elected as a Committee member as the new Constitution provides for members to be elected for a three years term and a maximum of nine consecutive years.

 We welcome the new Committee members, Adrienne Cahalan OAM and Romano Di Donato OAM, to replace the retiring Carolyn Lyons OAM, Ron Sharpe OAM and Michael Maher OAM.

 I will share more after the March Branch Committee meeting, regarding each Committee members’ roles and responsibilities.

 Our first Branch Committee meeting in March 2021 will finalise the NSW Business Plan for 2021 which will include:


  • Establishing the newly constituted role of “Affiliates” as non-voting members of our branch. More to come.
  • Increasing the Branch’s support of regional activities and we will announce the opportunity for them to get financial boosting for promoting The Order of Australia in their region and publicising the Association.
  • Branch Committee Office Bearer attendance at regional functions, along with our new Regional Coordinator, Chris Dunne OAM.
  • Expanding our communications within the Branch with more member profiles, event updates and promoting branch and regional initiatives.
  • Establishing sub-regions within Sydney for lower cost functions, a well- supported direction in the recent Branch Membership Survey.
  • Accepting the NSW Governor’s wish to attend Branch and Region functions where possible.
  • Creating a Branch Committee function for publicity and profile lifting of our organisation, the Branch’s Youth Community Service awards, and what the branch members and the regions are doing in the community.
  • Further development of other well supported membership suggestions from the recent Membership Survey.

 Another challenge is to move on from the Covid pandemic’s substantial impact on communities worldwide but it has also made us more aware of the needs to change how we meet and communicate, the importance of relationship building, and the need to look forward, not behind you. One of my favourite sayings gathered over the years is: “Don’t let the past veto the future.” Another related one is: “Live for today and tomorrow as you cannot change yesterday, just learn from its history.” We need to move forward.

 Finally, for me, these two sayings are vital to our organisation’s community responsibility to build community harmony and social wellbeing and inclusion. Each of us earned an award for making a difference and receiving our award should be the beginning of continued community service, not the end.

 I look forward to strengthening our relationships for the future.


Jim Mein AM
 Branch Chairman
 Order Of Australia Association NSW
 0408 660 591

Dear Members,

As this will be my last Monthly Update before handing over to a new Branch Chairman, I wanted to take the opportunity of thanking our 2500 NSW Association Members for your support during the two years of my Chairmanship. It has been an honour for me to carry out this role and your continued involvement even during such a challenging year as 2020, is most appreciated.

Peter Ronald Alfred Falk OAM – CHAIRMAN NSW BRANCH

I would also like to thank our Committee for their hard work in keeping our Branch “alive and well” throughout the Pandemic when it was so difficult to continue our normal level of activities, including our Annual Celebration Lunch at Parliament House, with our Patron Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC. Our Youth Community Service Award was not implemented in 2020 but we are hoping all will be well for high school students to participate in 2021.

We did go ahead with our Australia Day Lunch on Sydney Harbour, which was thoroughly enjoyed by the 96 members and guests who participated in a COVID-SAFE cruise. We also raised close to $2,000 for a most deserving charity “Grace’s Place”, details of which will be in the February issue of “The Order”.

The Australia Day Honours awards included 174 for NSW. We look forward to welcoming them to an Association event when restrictions are lifted.

Our next face-to-face event will be our AGM on 23 February at 11 am: The Manhattan Room at Doltone House Hyde Park, Level 3, 181 Elizabeth Street, Sydney.

Dress: Lounge Suit/Day Dress with Decorations (full size Medals). Pre luncheon drinks will be served followed by a seated luncheon with a selection of soft and alcoholic beverages included. OAA NSW Financial Members – no cost. Partners and Guests $100 pp (incl GST)

Guest Speaker at the luncheon will be Simon Bouda, Nine Network “A Current Affair” Crime Editor and Author.


At our AGM we will be saying farewell to 3 of our current Committee Members, and welcoming 3 new ones. My sincere thanks to Ron Sharpe OAM, who has done an outstanding job as Regional Co-ordinator, having been Chairman and holding other positions over the years. Michael Maher OAM, our Membership Officer will also step down on 23 February, as will Carolyn Lyons OAM who was our Honorary Secretary, and currently is our Youth Alumni Coordinator. We will also acknowledge service to the NSW Branch by John Archer OAM, for a number of roles over many years, including as Events Coordinator, Chairman, State Director and currently National Deputy Chairman.

Following my update on 6 January 2021, I wanted to let you know that we are progressing with the suggestion that we split Metro Sydney into smaller “regional groups”. We already have one Convenor identified, and will be looking for others as we move forward with this idea.

Also in line with your feedback, we will post planned functions on our website

At present we are planning our OAA NSW 40th Anniversary Cocktail Party at Government House; our Annual Gala Lunch or Dinner, and Member Forums with well-known speakers. Dates TBD.

No doubt you will hear from our new Chairman shortly after 23 February. My sincere thanks and fond farewell.

Peter Falk OAM
Branch Chairman
The Order of Australia Association NSW


Dear NSW Members,

This time last year our thoughts and prayers were with the many people in NSW who were suffering as a result of the ongoing bushfires, following the protracted drought, and then the serious floods across the State. At the time, we were oblivious to the soon to arrive COVID-19 Pandemic.

Since then, we have stayed in touch with each other through various means. Hopefully the worst is behind us now and we can return to face-to-face meetings and celebrations.

We had our first one in many months on 12 December: Our annual Fundraising Christmas Lunch, at the Kirribilli Club, and it was a great success. The 65 Members and friends who attended were very interested in what our speaker had to say about mental health.

John Brogden AM, was most generous in sharing his own personal journey with us. We raised $6,000 which will help the Kookaburra Kids Foundation ( support the children of parents who are dealing with mental illness. We will write more about this organisation, and about John Brogden in the February issue of “The Order”.

For our next Event – see below*

Our Committee has reviewed your important feedback in the recent Member Survey and we are pleased to give you a short update on progress in implementing your suggestions:

1) Interesting speakers at lunches/dinners.
As restrictions ease, we will be able to hold more face-to-face meetings and events. High calibre speakers will certainly be a major focus.

2) Chairman’s Monthly Updates.
We will continue these, and will also seek stories from Members under a new “Meeting our Members” initiative.
If anyone would like to put forward the name of an Honours Awardee they would like to hear more about, please let Louise Davis AM, our Communications Liaison, know their name and she will endeavuor to make contact about including them in this new segment. (

3) Zooming selected speeches during the year, eg the NSW Governor’s speech at our annual lunch.
We are looking into this possibility and will provide an update asap.

4) A yearly calendar will be published on our website with key events listed.

5) Sydney metro members to be split into sub regions?
We will look into making this possible. We will need to identify sub-regional convenors.

6) The OAA NSW Youth Community Service Awards:
This important program will hopefully go ahead this year. We will provide an update in the May edition of “The Order”, and in the Chairman’s monthly email.

7) Tours to places of interest (eg a train excursion)
We can certainly look into the feasibility of this and would appreciate receiving suggestions for such tours, presumably within NSW.

8) * Australia Day Lunch Cruise.
This very popular event will go ahead on January 26, assuming Government regulations do not have an impact. Numbers will be limited so please book soon.Booking deadline is 15 January.

Sadly, two of our long-term Committee members passed away recently – Sister St Jude Doyle OAM, who held a number of positions on our Committee including the John Lincoln Youth Community Service Awards Co-ordinator, and Malcolm Longstaff OAM who was our Newsletter Editor. May they rest in peace.

My best wishes for a healthy and safe 2021 to all Members. I look forward to seeing you at our AGM on Tuesday, February 23. An invitation and Agenda will be sent to NSW members shortly.

Yours sincerely,
Peter Falk OAM
The Order of Australia Association, NSW BRANCH CHAIRMAN\\


Dear NSW Members,

As 2020 comes to a close, I wanted to thank all of our >2500 Members for their support during this especially challenging year.
Whilst we have not been able to meet each other face to face due to the COVID-19 restrictions, we have thankfully been able to keep in touch via email and ZOOM, and to hear from some of our Members through our Thanks for Asking initiative.

The Member stories are on our website at

With our interstate borders now mostly open, at least we can visit family and friends, and possibly have a holiday over the Christmas/New Year period.

A reminder that we will go ahead with our annual Australia Day Sydney Harbour Cruise on Tuesday 26 January. Places are limited, so we ask that you reserve your place as soon as details are advised (by email shortly).

Member Survey Results:
I am very pleased to share the results of our Member Survey with everyone. The response rate was high, and your feedback and comments are very helpful. See the attachment for details.

It seems that our members do enjoy our Thanks for Asking initiative, and some have suggested we expand this to sharing general stories about our members, not just related to COVID-19. If you would like to share your story, or want to recommend another member for us to hear about, please let our Communications Liaison, Louise Davis know.

Other suggestions made by our members are being considered by our NSW Committee. I will send an update in January.

I hope to see some of our members at our Christmas Fundraising Luncheon at The Kirribilli Club, on Saturday 12 December. (ref to John Gullotta’s email of 16 November for details). RSVP deadline, 4 December.

Best wishes from me, and our Committee to all members and their families for a very happy and safe Christmas, and a peaceful and less challenging New Year ahead.

Peter Falk OAM
The Order of Australia Association
NSW Branch Chairman

Click here for results of recent Survey

Peter Falk OAM
Order of Australia Association
NSW Branch Chairman

Dear NSW Members,

Another month with COVID-19 restrictions in place has passed since my last note. We are all hoping that the Victorian “lock-down” will end soon, and that interstate borders will be opened at least more than at the present time. Thankfully the NSW restrictions are not too stringent.

We have heard from more of our Members who have responded to our “Thanks for Asking” initiative. Thanks to all who have shared their thoughts and experiences with us. We do enjoy reading about the many different ways NSW members have been dealing with these very unusual times.

Thanks to Greg Blaze OAM and Brother Nicholas Harsas, fsp OAM for their stories (see below). More will be published in “The Order” November issue.

Our thanks to Lindsay Callaghan OAM for his years of service to our Branch as Regional Convenor for Blue Mountains/Hawkesbury/Nepean and a warm welcome to John Wakefield OAM who has agreed to take on this role. I look forward to catching up with John and his wife Susan Wakefield OAM when meeting restrictions allow.

In early October you will receive another email from me which will include a Survey about Membership of the NSW Branch. We do hope you will respond to the survey, which is quite short, but important, as we are keen to hear how we might be able to make your experiences as a Member as relevant as possible.

In September, our Patron, The Governor of NSW, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC welcomed the Australia Day Awardees to Government House for their Investitures. We look forward to meeting new Members in the future, when social distancing is not such an issue for event planning.

We are hopeful that a pre-Christmas gathering may be possible. Stay tuned for an update on this, and on our annual Australia Day luncheon cruise on Sydney Harbour.

If you would like to share your story about life during COVID-19, please send an email to our Communications Liaison,

Best wishes from me, and from our Committee.

Peter Falk OAM
The Order of Australia Association NSW
Branch Chairman

Dear NSW Members,

Further to my last update email on 28 July, and Chairman’s Report in “The Order” August Issue, I wanted to bring you up to date on our latest news during these very different times as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. Hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel in terms of new cases in NSW, and we are all praying for some good news from Victoria.

Until Government restrictions are lifted, we continue to operate virtually. We had our Branch Committee meeting by Zoom this week, when we discussed the proposed new Constitution and By-Laws in some depth. My grateful thanks to Jim Mein AM for his hard work with the National Board on these important documents.

I hope everyone has read “The Order”, August Edition and has participated in the magazine reader survey. This is an important opportunity for all of us to give feedback about our most significant communications tool. The survey can be found on pages 9 and 10 in the Magazine. Due date for the Survey’s return is 23 September.

Do watch out for our NSW Member survey re “Member Benefits” in October. This will likely be conducted on Survey Monkey. Our Membership Officer Michael Maher OAM is leading this important work.

We have now published more than 11 “Thanks for Asking” stories from NSW Members. Two more will be included in this note, from John Howells OAM RFD, and David Parkinson OAM. We enjoy reading about how our Members are spending their time during COVID-19. If you would like to contribute, please send an email to our Communications Liaison, Louise Davis AM, at

Thanks to John and David for their “Thanks for Asking” contributions:
Peter Falk OAM
The Order of Australia Association NSW
Branch Chairman

Since my last update on 26 June, we have been advised that, as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, Investitures for Australia Day Honours awardees will now be held at Government House Sydney in September. Guest numbers are restricted, and we will need to wait until venue rules are relaxed before we hold a welcome reception for these new Honours Award recipients.  Queen’s Birthday Honours Awardees will hopefully have their Investitures later in the year.

The good news is, we have booked our annual Australia Day luncheon cruise Australia Day January 26, 2021. However, we will be restricted to having a maximum of 80 guests, assuming there are no further restrictions. Stay tuned for any updates.

We have so far published 9 “Thanks for Asking” stories from Members and will include 2 more in this Update.  Any members who would like to share their experiences during COVID please send an email to our Community Liaison Louise Davis AM at

As part of our review of Member Benefits we will conduct an online survey in October. We hope as many people as possible will respond so that we get a better understanding of what our Members appreciate and what we could consider in the future. Our Membership Officer, Michael Maher OAM will lead this work.

We held our regular Committee Meeting this week, by Zoom video conference due to the restrictions on face to face meetings.  Especially while we are living with restrictions in terms of meetings and events, our web coordinator Christopher Dunne OAM reminded us to keep him up to date with any news, especially from Regional Members.  Please contact Chris at if you have any local news which would be of interest to other members.

Our newly appointed Branch Director, Jim Mein AM has been appointed to the National Board’s Audit and Risk Committee.  Graham Hyde OAM from Queensland has been appointed the new National Secretary of The Order of Australia Association.

The 2021 National Conference (planned for Darwin) has been cancelled.

Thank you to Margaret Hamilton AM of Blackheath, and Margie Beck AM for their “Thanks for Asking” stories.

My best wishes and those of our Committee to all of our NSW Members as we all travel together through the Pandemic and its effects on our Communities.

Peter Falk OAM
The Order of Australia Association NSW

Branch Chairman