7 June 2024

Southeastern NSW residents feature among country's finest in King's Birthday honours

| Claire Sams
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Kai Noonan hopes their inclusion on the honours list means “more awareness, more attention, more people turning their focus to the issue” of domestic and family violence. Photo: Kai Noonan.

Charity work, civic service and advocacy for those in need have featured among southeastern NSW residents recognised in the 2024 King’s Birthday honours list.

Long Beach’s Kai Noonan received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division for their service to the LGBTIQ+ community, and to the domestic and family wellbeing sector.

Mx Noonan has been the director at LGBTIQ+ Health Australia of Sexual, Domestic and Family Violence Prevention since 2023 and director of Client Operations at Women and Girls Emergency Centre since 2021.

They are also a member of the National Women’s Safety Alliance.

“When I was working in the domestic violence sector, I realised there wasn’t enough support for the LGBTQ community,” they said.

“I’ve gone from working in frontline services [earlier in my career] to really trying to improve intervention responses, and that’s for victims as well as perpetrators.”

Their past roles include being a member of the 1800RESPECT National Sector Advisory Group, as well as holding various roles at ACON (a leading LGBTIQ+ health organisation) between 2015 and 2021.

“[Receiving the OAM] made me feel even more reassured that it’s important work,” they said.

“It says to me that other people believe it’s an important issue worth tackling and worth continuing to raise awareness about.”

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Other recipients of the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division included Richard Kennedy (for service to the community of Crookwell).

Mr Kennedy is a Life Member of Crookwell and District Historical Society, having served as vice-president (1989 to 2009) and president (between 2000 and 2009). He was a member of Crookwell Shire Council Tourism Association and a former representative of Crookwell Hospital Community Consultation Group.

Mr Kennedy has also been a member of the Lions Club of Crookwell since 1984, serving as president, treasurer, secretary and public officer at various points.

The former parish councillor at St Mary’s Catholic Church was also a councillor at Crookwell Shire between 1974 and 1995. In that time, he served as deputy president (between 1979 and 1980, and between 1989 and 1991) and president (1980 to 1989).

His past awards include Crookwell Shire Council’s 2003 Australia Day Citizen Award, Lion of the Year from Lions Club of Crookwell (in 1993, 1994 and 1996) and a Rotary Community Service Award in 1993.

Tumut’s Suzanne Bulger received a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to the community of Tumut.

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Judith Caldwell also received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division for her service to her hometown of Cooma.

“It’s a great honour and I feel very humbled by it,” Ms Caldwell said.

“I do these things because I enjoy them, and I’ve made lots of friends by being on these committees, but I felt it was something I needed to do in my community.”

Ms Caldwell was born in Cooma, though she moved away with her husband. She returned in 1992 when they retired.

In the ensuing years, her community work included serving as a former board member at Raglan Gallery in Cooma for 12 years, a secretary of the Australian Red Cross in Cooma from 1995 to 2012 and serving as a Pink Lady at Cooma Hospital.

Ms Caldwell was also a founding committee member of Monaro Committee for Cancer Research, serving from 1997 to 2021.

“That organisation established an oncology ward in the local hospital,” she said.

“That was a major thing. It felt like we’d achieved something major for the community.”

She also volunteered for two decades for Cooma Pastoral and Agricultural Association, and is a current patron and “an occasional judge” in the flower section.

Ms Caldwell is also a current member of the Nimmitabel and District Garden Club.

“I love Cooma. That’s why we came back after being in other places,” she said.

“What I love about it is that it’s a wonderful community, full of volunteers.

“There’s lots of other people in the community that do lots of wonderful work.”

Recipients announced in the list will be invested with their awards in the coming months at a ceremony at Government House in Sydney.

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