Sam Mostyn AC among philanthropic leaders recognised in King’s Birthday Honours 

Philanthropy Australia Fri, 14 Jun 2024 Estimated reading times: 3 minutes

Philanthropy Australia congratulates members of the philanthropic, charitable and community sectors who were honoured in the 2024 King’s Birthday Honours list. Almost 500 Australians were recognised in the general division of the awards, including Companion of the Order of Australia awards for Sam Mostyn AC and Jonathan Mills AC. Leonard Vary AM and Daniel Besen AM become Members of the Order of Australia. 

Sam Mostyn AC (pictured above right, photo credit: PMO), who was announced as the incoming Governor General earlier this year, has had a distinguished career as a business and community sector leader and advocate, particularly in the areas of mental health, sport, First Nations issues, sustainability and gender equality. She most recently served as Chair of Australians Investing in Women and Beyond Blue, among a number of other previous board posts in the sector.  

Sam was recognised for “eminent service in the social justice, gender equity, sporting, cultural and business sectors, to reconciliation, and to environmental sustainability”. Among many other appointments and trailblazing achievements, Sam served 11 years as an AFL commissioner and in 2022 was made chair of the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, convened by the minister for finance and women, Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher. 

CEO of Australians Investing in Women Julie Reilly OAM said: “This prestigious award is a testament to Sam’s outstanding leadership and significant impact on both the business community and her advocacy in climate, First Nations, sport and gender equality arenas. 

“Sam’s tireless efforts have set new standards in civil society and paved the way for greater inclusivity and fairness in corporate Australia. Her dedication has created more equitable opportunities for so many Australians. This honour is a well-deserved recognition of Sam’s remarkable contributions.” 

Leonard Vary AM

Leonard Vary AM was recognised for “significant service to the philanthropic sector, to the LGBTIQA+ community, and to the arts”. A lawyer and businessman, Leonard was closely involved in the marriage equality campaign and was named as one of Australia’s 50 outstanding LGBTI role models in 2016 and 2018. Leonard was a foundational donor to the Victorian Pride Centre and has served on the boards or as chair of multiple arts organisations. He is currently the CEO of The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund and Co-Chair of Equality Australia. 

Leonard said: “It was wonderful to read through the full list of recipients and be reminded of their many and diverse contributions to our community. Personally, it has been a great privilege to work and serve in fields and for causes that seek to create a more just and enriching society.  

“I feel very fortunate for having played a small part in this work, and all the more so for being recognised in this way. Every day, in my role with Sidney Myer Fund and The Myer Foundation, I have the opportunity to observe the impact around the country of for-purpose organisations and their leaders – they never cease to impress me.” 

Daniel Besen AM, recognised for “for significant service to the arts, and to philanthropy”, is known as a passionate supporter of the arts. Tabitha Lovett, CEO of the Besen Family Foundation, said: “We were delighted to see Daniel Besen recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours.  

“Daniel’s contribution to the broader community is far reaching. In the arts and culture sector, he has championed artists in visual arts, music, dance, theatre and film, as well as creating spaces that enable and promote artistic practice, such as through the establishment of Collingwood Yards and his role as Chair of TarraWarra Museum of Art.” 

Another prominent supporter of the arts from Victoria, Robin Campbell AM, was made a Member of the Order of Australia for “significant service to arts administration, and to the community”. Robin has served as the Deputy Chair of the Australian Ballet School and is a life member of the National Gallery of Victoria, among other posts in the arts sector. Robin said: “It’s a great honour and I am delighted, but to keep it in perspective, I am also very aware that there are many who do as much and more but just in less public arenas.  

“I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to work with many arts institutions that have fuelled my passion for ballet, fine art, music and theatre, and hopefully contributed in a very small way to making these more accessible to others.  

“Creativity is essential for a society to thrive and our arts institutions are critical in inspiring that creativity. It’s important that everyone is able to benefit from these institutions whatever their means and ensure that the arts are not just the domain of a privileged few. It’s a little known fact that Australia ranks lowest of all OECD countries in government funding of the arts relative to GDP, so philanthropy plays a critical role. 

“I am extremely fortunate to have worked with wonderful and inspiring people both in the arts and the community and to have had very many life-enriching experiences as a result.” 

Also in Victoria, Dr Sonja Hood AM, was the recipient of an AM for “significant service to community through social welfare organisations, and to sports administration”. Sonja currently sits on the board of the Scanlon Foundation and has been chief executive of Community Hubs Australia since 2015, among other appointments. 

In the field of medical research, Professor Sharon Goldfeld AM was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for “significant service to paediatric medicine as a clinician and academic, and to public health research”. Professor Goldfeld is a paediatrician and Director, Centre for Community Child Health (CCCH) the Royal Children’s Hospital, Co-Group leader of Policy and Equity, and Theme Director, Population Health at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Sharon was recently also awarded the inaugural Marles Medal in STEM (science, technology, engineering and medicine) for excellent and original research that led to outstanding achievement in research impact. 

In Western Australia, Pat Ryan OAM, was recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia for “service to the community through social welfare organisations”. 

Philanthropy Australia congratulates all those on the full list of the recipients for their work in philanthropy and the community (see the Governor General’s website). We truly appreciate your support of giving and your extensive contributions and commitment to advancing the for-purpose sector.