COMMENT: True selflessness is what's worth celebrating

A regular comment from those who devote much of their time to the betterment of their community is that they don't do it for accolades. However, these selfless volunteers and advocates are well worth celebrating.

True selfless behaviour is increasingly rare in this social media-fuelled look-at-me society in which we now find ourselves entwined. To see so many community groups and volunteers providing for their neighbours, and those prepared to speak up on behalf of their fellow human beings, is encouraging and uplifting.

That's not to say there aren't failings in the current system of Queen's Birthday and Australia Day Honours.

By no means are the efforts of those included on these lists unworthy - they should rightly be celebrated.

However, when it appears a vast majority of those recipients are men, and that the higher echelons of the honours seem to be reserved for well paid public servants being recognised for doing their job, something is awry.

Since the Queen's Birthday honours were instigated in 1975, only around 30 per cent of the honours have gone to women. Two-thirds of the 2018 list were men.

Calls to rethink the system seem to have had some impact, with the 2019 list including 395 women among the 993 recipients - around 40 per cent and "a record high".

A positive step, but not yet the equality that is present in New Zealand's equivalent awards.

In saying that, all four of Eurobodalla's recipients this year are women, meaning five of the Far South Coast's total of nine.

There's also something to be said about the over-representation of celebrities and well-paid public servants among the top honours being handed out.

It's a regular criticism of the annual awards that while the OAMs and emergency service medals are graciously received by those going above and beyond the call of duty for volunteer service or selfless work on behalf of their community, the higher grades of Members, Officers or Companions of the Order of Australia (AM, AO and AC respectively) are reserved for those getting paid handsomely for the service for which they are being awarded.

There will be exceptions, as there always are, but to appropriate a biting observation of society that seems fitting: All are worthy, but some are more worthy than others...

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