Honours recipients across the UCA
The Australia Day 2022 Honours List recognises outstanding Australians for their contributions
February 1, 2023
"There is no gift without its corresponding service: all ministries have a part in the ministry of Christ." Uniting Church Basis of Union, paragraph 13
A First Nations community leader, a 91-year-old Church Elder, a pipe organist whose service spans half a century, an accountant and a church volunteer of 60 years are among the Uniting Church members recognised with Australia Day honours.
We highlight some of the deserving recipients below (click the name to read more):
“The Church has been my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.” Vena Stoneham OAM
Yanyi Bandicha OAM was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her longstanding service to the Indigenous communities of the Northern Territory and South Australia. Yanyi is a tireless advocate for the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara people and a wonderful First Nations leader in the Uniting Church.
When asked about receiving the award this week, Yanyi said she was happy and proud to be given the honour.
Yanyi is a founding member and a current Director of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women's Council. She served various terms as its Chairperson from 2002-2019. During this time, Yanyi has been imperative in campaigning for significant reforms to improve the lives of those in her home community, Pukatja, such as the shift to Opal fuel in the APY Lands and the introduction of renal dialysis on Country in 2019. Just last week she met with a delegation including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to speak about concerns over alcohol-related issues in her community.
Yanyi is a former Chairperson of the Northern Regional Council of Congress and currently serves as an Executive Member. She is actively involved at Ernabella Uniting Church where she is a member of the executive and women’s ministry. She is a Foundation Member of Ernabella Girls' Choir and Ernabella Choir.
Yanyi’s significant contribution to education includes ongoing work as a Translator and Audiobook Narrator for the Pitjantjatjara Bible Translation Project. She was a much-loved teacher in various schools including Amata Anangu School, Yirara College in Alice Springs, Thebarton Primary School, Inglefarm High School and Woodville High School from 1972-2002. She is a Former Director of the Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Education Committee, South Australian Department of Education.
Yanyi has always stood out as a leader and her life has been characterised by generosity and a commitment to supporting those around her, according to a story on the NPY Women’s Council website.
“Yanyi has truly made a difference in so many people’s lives.”
Other Medal of the Order of Australia recipients included:
Geoffrey Ambler OAM, for service to the community of Salisbury. Geoffrey has been an active member at Parafield Gardens Uniting Church since 1974, including as a former Elder, and was the Chair of the Salisbury Parish Council from 1992-1995.
Gifford Hatfield OAM, for service to youth through Scouts, and to the community. Gifford has been a member of Koonung Heights Uniting Church for over 30 years, during which time he has been a member of the Church Council and its property committee, and a youth group leader and mentor. Gifford has an impressive record of leadership and service to Scouts Australia that spans almost 70 years!
Jenny Hughes OAM, for service to the community through a range of organisations. Over 25 years, Jenny has been Chairperson, a former board member and former pastoral care worker with UnitingCare Wesley (country South Australia). She is also actively involved in leadership for several regional branches of Soroptimist International, a global volunteer movement focused on the empowerment of women and girls. In 2009 Jenny was Port Pirie Regional Council’s Citizen of the Year.
John Lawrence OAM, for service to the community through charitable organisations. John was on the leadership team at South Mandurah Uniting Church for an impressive 18 years, which included 17 years as Treasurer and six years as Congregational Chair. He was a foundation Member and Treasurer of FinUCAre, a local financial counselling service. In 2019 John received the City of Mandurah’s Local Legend award, and in 2020 he was its Community Citizen of the Year.
Florence Woods OAM, for service to the community of Maleny. Florence has been a member of the Women’s Guild at Maleny Uniting Church since 1965, and is a former youth fellowship lead. She has been a Patron of both the Maleny Historical Society and the Ben Bryce Park Retirement Village Auxiliary. Florence was recognised as Citizen of the Year in the 2011 Fisher Community Australia Day Awards.
David Wright OAM, for service to the community of Bendigo. David has been a Choirmaster/Organist across several Uniting Churches and is Chairman of Church Council within the Uniting Church in Bendigo, while he has held volunteer roles with organisations ranging from the President of Bendigo Chorale, Chairman of Bendigo Trust, Treasurer at Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre and a range of roles including Life Member for the Bendigo Easter Fair Society.
Diane Bilka OAM, for service to nursing, encompassing her more than 30 years with Frontier Services in Andamooka in the Far North of South Australia. Diane began work with the Australian Inland Mission (AIM) in 1981 as one of two Registered Nurses stationed at the Andamooka Community Health Centre. She concluded her employment in 2021, after 40 years of connection with and service to the communities in and around Andamooka.
A number of other Uniting Church members were recognised for their service to the wider community in a wide range of fields and disciplines.
Margaret Kearin OAM, for service to the community through a range of organisations. Margaret is an Elder at Kangaroo Flat Uniting Church.
Elizabeth Nalder OAM, for service to the community of Gilgandra. Elizabeth has been a member of Gilgandra Uniting Church for over 60 years.
Gerard McGann OAM, for service to the community through a range of roles including as a volunteer for Food Rescue (Uniting WA).
Tamara Shepherd OAM, for service to the community through charitable organisations. Tamara was the President of the Deepdene Uniting Church Playgroup from 1992-1993 and a Committee Member from 1989-1994.
Janet Whisson OAM, for service to primary education. Janet has been a Sunday School Teacher and Worship Leader in the Uniting Church since Union in 1977.
A special mention to a Uniting Church interfaith partner, Uri Windt OAM, for service to the Jewish community. Uri was a member of the Jewish/Uniting Church Dialogue from 2014-2018.
Joy Sims - Dookie Senior Citizen of the Year, Joy is a Elder for the Dookie Uniting Church, often leading the congregation as minister when required.
George Milford - Mt Alexander Shire Citizen of the Year. George is a leader at Harcourt Uniting Church.
Know someone not listed? Email us.
Anyone can nominate any Australian for an award in the Order of Australia. If you know someone worthy, nominate them now at www.gg.gov.au.
Photo above (clockwise): Yanyi Bandicha, credit: NPY Women's Council, Judith Richards, credit: Bendigo Times, Vena Stoneham, credit: Hill to Hawkesbury Community News, Don Slaughter, credit: Freemantle Wesley Uniting Church Facebook, David Greenall.