New South Wales

Regional News

The first Regional Group to hold a function was Tamworth (now the North West Regional Group) on 21st September 1984; up to the date of this Newsletter hundreds of functions have been held in regional areas – lunches, dinners, morning/afternoon teas, church services and other events.


Hastings/Macleay Branch Coffee Connect

Hello Members and Guests.

Thank you all for joining us for our get-together on Monday, and congratulations again to our new OAM recipients Noel Hiffernan, Gordon Gray and Paul Pollett.

Attached and embedded is the photo taken of our happy group. Looking forward to our next gathering.

L to R – Laurie Smith, Patricia Johnson, Vicki Hanks, Tony Hanks, Barbara Smith (sitting), Paul Pollett, Suzanne Pollett, Bill Secombe (sitting), Gordon Gray, Jeannette Rainbow,

Winnifred Secombe (sitting), Virginia Cox, Grae Cox and another Winnifred who is assisting Noel Hiffernan (sitting)


Cardiff RSL Club, 2 March 2024

Photo of recipients of Order of Australia awards who attended an Order of Australia Hunter Regional Group function for the first time with an attendance of 112 . 

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Rear – Margaret Covi OAM, Ronald Hacker OAM.

Middle Row – Jenny Gore AM, Jennifer Barnes OAM, Rodney Barnes OAM, Bill Willis OAM, De-Anne Douglas OAM, Elizabeth Grist AM, Kylie Facer OAM.  

Front – Lucia Wilcox OAM, Babara Whitcher OAM, Winsome Lambkin OAM, Louise Buxton OAM. 

We received the email below from a lady who regularly attends our Order of Australia Hunter Regional Group functions.  I think that she sums up the general feed back which we have received. “Dear Peter and ALL your marvellous OAA Hunter Regional Committee. A huge thanks to you all for a lovely Morning Tea this morning. Thanks too, to the lovely ladies that help and support the committee. As always, the whole event is conducted with great aplomb, with obviously an enormous amount of organisation from you all which makes it all work so very well and flow so beautifully.

          Our guest speakers are always something special, but today’s speaker was truly remarkable.  What a great human being, who certainly serves to the utmost, and lives his life of service with his faith foremost, to help, over and above the call, to aid all who come across his path and those who share his life and work.  We will long remember, with huge admiration, Gary Raymond APM OAM, and hope his example will become a blueprint for all who meet him.”

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Gary Raymond APM OAM

 It is lovely to be able to welcome the new awardees – most are previously names or at least the odd photo in the newspapers. It is always lovely to see them & let them know they have become part of a very special family and to make them welcome to our group.

         Thanks, also to the Cardiff RSL Club who are so wonderfully hospitable, and accommodating of every need, big or small. Every warm good wish and our hearty thanks to you all.



On Saturday morning the Illawarra Regional group held their welcome morning tea for the new recipients from the Australia Day 2024 awards.

A morning tea was hosted by the Illawarra Regional OAM Association to welcome the newest recipients and to introduce them to their counterparts in the region.  Representatives from the NSW OAM Association, Mr Jim Meins AM and Mr John Gulotta AM joined Illawarra Deputy Convenor Mr Bill Dowson OAM in congratulating (L-R) Sarah Neill AM, David Stanton OAM, Wayne Morris OAM, Professor Buddhima Indraratna AM and Valda Brunker OAM (seated)


Members and Guests,

What a pleasure it was to share a delightful luncheon and mateship with the good-looking group of people in the photo below.

It was a pleasure having two members from the Manning Branch come all the way from Forster, great to see you Wendy Borchers AM and Helen Bryan OAM.

Thank you Virginia Cox OAM and husband Grae, for running the Christmas games. Fun was had by all even though no cheating was allowed!

Patricia Johnson OAM and my lovely wife Barbara, thank you for your organisational skills in meeting and greeting everybody, you made things flow so well.

To the staff at Port City Bowling Club, we can’t thank you enough for the lovely Christmas theme set-up of the room. Also, Rose, Kate and Elly, you are an absolute asset to Port City Bowling Club.

Thank you to Emeritus Professor Gail Whiteford AM (accompanied by Husband Harry) for giving our Acknowledgment to Country and for outlining her contribution to society culminating in her receiving the Australia Medal.

We hope that everyone, including those who could not attend, have a joyous and safe December and January before we catch up again in the New Year.


Laurie Smith OAM

0416 221 147
[email protected]
PO Box 1891



The Central West Regional Group of the Order of Australia Association enjoyed a High Tea at Abercrombie House in Bathurst on Sunday 15 October.

Abercrombie House was built in the 1870s by the Stewart family who were Bathurst pioneers.  The house is considered to be of extreme historical significance.  It is listed on the National Trust Register and is described as an outstanding example of Victorian Tudor style architecture.   It is now owned by the Morgan family who hosted the group and served a delicious high tea.

The afternoon began with the Annual General meeting of Central West Regional Group of the Order of Australia Association followed by presentations by

Elizabeth Zachulski OAM and Marie Billington OAM on their works which were recognised by the award of the OAM.

Chris Morgan then gave a most interesting talk on some of the history and legends of Abercrombie House including describing how he and his wife Xanthe pasted thousands of little sheets of gold leaf on the ceiling of the ballroom to make it the stunning feature that it now is.

Following afternoon tea Christopher conducted a tour of the house.


The committee of the Central West Regional Group of the Order of Australia Association together with Jim Mein, NSW Branch Chairman, Order of Australia Association and Chris Morgan, owner of Abercrombie House.

Chair:  Mary Brell, Treasurer:  Kate Baxter, Secretary:  Monica Morse,
Committee:  Elizabeth Zachulski, Marie Billington, Nikki Kiss



Australian Honours recipients from the Dubbo region who attended the luncheon.

The Regional Convenor Ruth Shanks AM making a special presentation to Ms. Ruby Riach OAM for the many years of service to the Regional Committee. Ms Riach is an amazing and indefatigable 96-year-old stalwart, who has previously been honoured by the Australian National Museum of Education.

Dubbo Region secretary Marie Knight OAM and Jennifer Cowley OAM presenting Steve Hinks with a thank you gift.

Steve Hinks is the Director of Taronga Western Plains Zoo and was the guest speaker at the Dubbo Regional Luncheon held at the Dubbo RSL Club. Mr Hinks has been with the Taronga Western Plains Zoo since 20017 and brings 17 years of experience in the tourism industry, gained at some of Sydney’s best-known attractions. Taronga Western Plains Zoo is an iconic Zoo that plays a pivotal role in regional tourism. Likewise, it plays a major role in national and international animal conservation and breeding programs.

Ruth Shanks AM, Graham Neville, Dianne Neville OAM, David North OAM and Dianne North OAM.

David North NSW Branch Director and Dianne North from the NSW Branch attended the luncheon due to the sudden illness of Chris Dunne OAM, Regional Coordinator and Gail Dunne OAM Treasurer NSW Branch. David spoke about the NSW Branch National objectives for the future.

Regional Convenor Ruth Shanks AM making a special presentation to Wally Flynn OAM for his many years of service to the Regional Committee. He has prepared information packs for organisations such as Probus, CWA and Rotary to assist them with their nominations. He has local politicians onside and they help him with the distribution of the information packs.

Attendees enjoying the luncheon.

Jessie Quigley OAM, Ruth Shanks AM and Kath Readford OAM



Tuesday 10th October 2023

Hastings McLeay new Committee L-R

Virginia Cox OAM, Arthur Roberts, Margaret Roberts OAM, Patricia Johnson OAM, Laurie Smith OAM, Wayne Evans OAM, Tony Hanks OAM, Vicki Hanks, and Jeannette Rainbow OAM



Dianne North OAM, Libby Davies AM, David North OAM, Ron Gibb OAM

There were around 40 people at the high tea function arranged by Ron Gibb OAM and the Shoalhaven Regional committee. There were also two people representing the local council. The high tea provided by the Country Women’s Association in Nowra was delicious. People loved the assortment of hot savoury, sandwiches and cakes served with tea and coffee.

The guest speaker was Libby Davies AM, who was CEO of White Ribbon, but is currently on the Board of Countries Universities Centre which is in Ulladulla. Her presentation was very well received.

David North spoke a few words about what is happening at State and National level of the Order of Australia Association. He also spoke about the NSW Branch committees’ arranging of the National Conference in Sydney for 2025.




The Clarence Richmond region held a luncheon at the Alstonville Bowling Club on Sunday 10 September 2023 where over 30 members and their guests enjoyed great food and company.

The guest speaker for the luncheon was Mr. Colin Lee OAM, who gave a live update on the impact of the North Coast floods, which are continuing to have drastic effects on families, landowners, and multiple communities in the region. More than 18 months after the devastating floods 52% of flood victims are still living in shells of homes that were flooded; 26% are still living in temporary accommodation such as caravans, sheds, or pods, or with family and or friends; 18% are still living in insecure accommodation such as tents or temporary rentals or in cars; 4% are no longer living in the area.

Many families will not be able to return to their homes, many buildings have no insulation and often, no walls. As Mr Lee explains, ‘We came across a product called Rapid Response Housing, which is a collapsible box house. It’s a very strong, well made, insulated single room which we fit out with a kitchenette. Some have showers and hot water systems. We fit those out to accommodate people for their sleeping and living quarters.’ These ‘RotaUnits’ can be installed in backyards, under houses, or in free standing locations in rural areas. People can use the units as a base while they complete repairs to their houses nearby, and maintain connections and jobs within their local communities.

The incidence of family violence and breakups, outbreaks of violence and suicide, children living in split families and often without adequate housing, are reported as higher in the North Coast area than in any other area across NSW, all attributable to the floods of February 2022.

The Convenor, Mr. Grahame Gooding OAM, also the secretary of the Far North Coast Legacy Club, has been a uniting figure in the Region, and one who continues to make a huge difference to his local community in many ways. At the completion of the luncheon Grahame held a general committee meeting where all members of the committee again volunteered to continue as members of the committee as follows:

Mr. Grahame Gooding OAM Convenor; Mrs. Robyn Spruce OAM, Mr. John Barnes OAM, Mrs. Helen Hargreaves AM and MR Phil Chapman OAM as committee members.

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Grahame Gooding OAM – John Barnes OAM – Col Lee OAM

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Julie Lee OAM – Col Lee OAM – Stephanie Gooding

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A landscape view of the attendees at the Clarence Richmond Luncheon


A person and person laughing while holding papersJan Phillips and MC Peter Atkinson welcomed everyone to the Far South Coast afternoon tea held on August 22 in Bega. Among the attendees were two newly awarded members in the King’s Birthday Honours List, Miss Pam Hamory OAM and Mr. Frank Davey OAM
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Jenny Munro AM, Judy Glover, John Glover OAM, Kris Macauley AM and Col Macauley

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Miss Pamela Hamory AM with her friends, Teresa Warburton and Penny Young

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Peter Atkinson OAM, Mary Arkinson OAM, Rod Parker AM and in the foreground R-L Dr Graham Garner AM and Mrs Garner

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A panoramic view of the afternoon tea party.


The Hunter Regional Group held a wonderful morning tea at the Cardiff RSL Club on Saturday 26th August 2023 with 82 members and guests enjoying the occasion.

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Attending a Hunter Regional Group function for the first time were six recent awardees: –

Mr. Ken White OAM, Mr. John Dunnet OAM, Dr Rosemary Hackworthy OAM,

Mrs. Patricia McMahon OAM, Mrs. Margaret Wood OAM and Mrs. Rhonda Scruton OAM.

The guest speaker at the morning’s tea was Laureate Professor Clare Collins AO FAHMS FNSA FRSN FDA, who spoke at length on her journey into food and nutrition research and health practice. She has also written a book called Cook’s Tour.

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Laureate Professor Clare Collins is a Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Director of Research in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Newcastle, and Director of Hunter Medical Research Institute, Food and Nutrition Program. Laureate Professor Collins has made major contributions to our knowledge on the impact of improving diet quality and food patterns on health and wellbeing outcomes.

She is also a well-known and highly sought after nutrition media commentator, with thousands of media interviews for radio, print, blogs and TV under her belt. She is a regular guest of Dr Karl on ABC, Triple J Science Hour and Shirt Loads of Science. In 2018 she was a presenter for Catalyst and appeared on Ask The Doctor.

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Mr. Charlie Stevens OAM acknowledging Professor Geoffrey Kellerman AO for his outstanding service to the Order of Australia Hunter Regional Group. Geoffrey was a member of the committee from 1999 to 2022 including many years as Treasurer.

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John Lovett OAM and Dawn Lovett OAM

Barbara and Laurie Kelly AM RFD ED – past Convenor of the Hunter Regional Group

Jack McNaughton OAM with his wife, Judy

Glenice Hanley and Barbara Stevens who welcomed all on arrival.


Some 28 members of the region attended a Luncheon at the Town & Country Club, Frome Street, Moree on Saturday 19 August 2023 for fellowship and to recognise the award of an AM to Secretary Roger Butler and the OAM to Don Murchie, Dr Diana Coote and Dr Clem Gordon.

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NSW Branch Chairman Jim Mein AM and his wife Gill travelled from Sydney to join the luncheon and offer “Parting Thoughts”.

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In attendance also were Dick Estens AO (of the Estens Telstra enquiry and founder of Aboriginal Employment Strategy Limited) and his daughter Sascha (she was the founder of Rabbit Hop Films) as guest speaker for the occasion, tracing her and her company’s history with extracts from fascinating film that she had produced.

There were a large number of apologies, some due to distance, others from members who had departed the region, but most for health reasons.

The pictures attached are of Sascha Estens, addressing the gathering, Gill and Jim Mein AM on the left of the other picture and Dick Estens AO on the right having just filmed Sascha.



On Friday 11th August the Illawarra Region held their newly formed morning tea event which was attended by three new awardees from the King’s Birthday Honours list for 2023.

Phil Thompson OAM, Convenor Illawarra, photographed with Arthur Booth OAM, Alan Leaver OAM, and Geoff Phillips OAM at the morning tea.

Phil introduced the new members and invited them to stand with him at the front to applause from the audience.  The King’s Birthday Investitures will be held in September 2023.  Phil Thompson asked the audience to recount their reactions on receiving the letter from Government House, Canberra, and one member recounted that an email they also received may have been a scam which one did not open for a few weeks.


The guest speaker at the morning tea, Val Fell OAM, spoke about the Council of Elders.  She spoke about the Aged Care Council of Elders who are a group of older Australians with diverse backgrounds and life experiences.  Their aim is to help shape the aged care system by informing older people about the aged care reforms and providing advice to the Government about aged care reform and ageing well.  To obtain more information on the Aged Care Council of Elders look up or 02 62898769.



 Val Fell OAM


On Thursday 3rd August 2023 the Hastings/Macleay Branch had a very successful luncheon which included  the local Retired Police Officers Association. 

Our guest speaker was Retired Police Superintendant Deb Wallace, who was also guest speaker at the State Branch AGM in April 2022. 

Above is a photo of all who attended

It was a most enjoyable presentation which included Deb’s great sense of humour. As it happened, one of our retired police officers attending was a boss in Deb’s early career, and she joked that her presentation had to keep “on track”!  All in all, it was a very enjoyable get together, and Deb took the opportunity to sit around and chat with those of us who could ‘linger a little longer’. 

Laurie Smith

Hastings Macleay Regional Convenor


Southern Highlands Group News 20 July 2023

Our local committee has been working on some suggestions and activities which we trust will underpin some intentional ‘marketing’ of the Order of Australia in the Southern Highlands.  We would love to share this information with you and our first opportunity will be at the 
Wednesday 26 July 2023 — 5.00pm – 7.00pm
This is an informal gathering for members to catch up with others as it has been a while since our October 2022 gathering.
Partners are welcome.  Drinks/Food at own expense.
Numbers are limited, so please reserve your spot by RSVP to email: [email protected]
We would love to see you there!

Save the Date Invitations…
Friday 13 October @ Mittagong RSL.  3.30pm for 4.00pm – 6.00pm.
There will be a Guest Speaker.   More details to follow…

Annual Braille Music Concert…
This was an awe-inspiring event and one which our local group has supported financially for many years.  Congratulations to Roma Dix OAM for her organisation of the annual music camp and concert for the last thirty years.  An amazing committment!

We look forward to meeting up with you at our planned gatherings.
If you have any suggestions for future events and/or inspirational Guest Speakers, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sharon Hoogland OAM, Chairperson SHG
email:  [email protected]