Eye health leaders star in the Queen’s Birthday Awards

The Queen's Birthday 2014 Honours List, announced by His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) on 9 June, included a number of esteemed colleagues from the eye health and vision care sector, such as Vision 2020 Australia Chair, the Hon Dr Barry Jones AC, and Vision Australia’s General Manager Advocacy and Engagement, Maryanne Diamond AO.

The Hon Dr Barry Jones AC and Maryanne Diamond AO at the Parliamentary Friends Group for Eye Health and Vision Care breakfast in 20H3

Jennifer Gersbeck, CEO of Vision 2020 Australia, said that it was encouraging to see members of the eye health and vision care sector being recoginised at such a high level. 

“It says a lot about our sector. These awards demonstrate the high calibre of people we have working towards eliminating avoidable blindness and improving the lives of those who are blind or vision impaired,” Ms Gersbeck said.

Dr Jones was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for eminent service to the community as a leading intellectual in Australian public life, through contributions to scientific, heritage, musical, medical, political and public health organisations, and to the Australian Parliament. 

Even though Dr Jones was humbled to be awarded an AC, he said there is a touch of vindication in the award. “For decades I was raising issues that no-one wanted to discuss,” Dr Jones said. He also commented that the award would not stop him pulling punches in the future. Rather it would encourage him to continue to speak out strongly for issues that he was passionate about.

“In his role as Chair of Vision 2020 Australia, Barry has been a strong and unwavering advocate for the eye health and vision sector and for the elimination of avoidable blindness. So we all look forward to Barry continuing to be outspoken about the issues that are close to his heart,” Ms Gersbeck said.  

Ms Diamond was awarded the Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to people who are blind or have low vision through national and international leadership roles, and as an advocate for best practice employment opportunities.

“Having worked with Maryanne for a number of years I personally know how passionate and dedicated she is, so it is wonderful to see her hard work recognised on a national stage.” 

Another eye health leader honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Awards was Associate Professor Michael Robert Johnson, Founding Director at The Fred Hollows Foundation, who was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the blind and those with low vision, to education, and to the community. 

The full Queen's Birthday 2014 Honours List can be viewed on the Governor-General's website.