BONDI’S Ronni Kahn took up the fight against food waste 15 years ago — long before sustainability became the buzz word of today. Little did she know her OzHarvest charity would become a juggernaut, which recently delivered its 100 millionth meal to those in need, and that she would be the recipient of the Officer of the order of Australia (AO) award this Australia Day, in what she told the Wentworth Courier today was “an amazing way to start 2019”.
Indeed, with 30 members of the community recognised, the achievements of eastern suburbs locals shine brightly in this year’s Australia Day Honours List.
Among the highest honours awarded this year, former banker Jillian Broadbent received the Companion of the Order of Australia for “eminent service to corporate, financial, clean energy and cultural organisations, to higher education and to women in business”.
Kahn, who calls herself an “accidental activist” began her mission with the simple idea to save food that might be thrown out and give it to people who are hungry.
She was featured on the Wentworth Courier’s cover last June ahead of her documentary Food Fighter: One Woman’s Crusade Against Waste.
“It’s addictive when you can see you can make a difference … this will be my life’s work,” Ronnie told the Wentworth Courier in June.
Yesterday, despite knowing — in secret — that she was to receive the honour for the past five weeks, she was as passionate as ever, hoping to use the exposure from the award to further charity’s work.
“It’s divine to feel that the community has recognised the work of Oz Harvest,” she said.
“The award is in my name but it is for everybody —, my team, the board and everyone who has every supported Oz Harvest. Yes I started OzHarvest but it would be nothing if not for the magnificent people around me.
She added: “This will raise our profile, it’s phenomenal, it does raise awareness … it raises the issue of food waste, and education and everything we stand for being in partnership with the planet, and for me that’s a hugely important part of this award.”
In the field of human rights, Margaret Cook and Ann Gabrielle Madden, both of Paddington, were awarded an AO. Ms Cook’s lifelong efforts to promote democracy have stretched the United Nations and a number of public and private bodies in Australia and the world. Ms Madden has advocated throughout Australia for better community health and awareness around drugs, disease and crime.
In performing arts, Magda Szubanski has been vocal in both entertaining Australia and in campaigning for gay marriage rights, receiving an AO.
Waterloo resident, John Derum was given an AM for his work as an actor of stage, film and television, while Zeljko Bedic from Paddington has been granted an OAM for his service to music and music education.
Eastern Suburb medical professionals picked up numerous medals. Double Bay Professor Ronald Grunstein was acknowledged for his extensive research in the area of sleep disorders. Bondi Beach resident Lesley Brydon helped to create a National Pain Strategy to support pain management in Australia, and Professor Maria Kavallaris was awarded an AM for her work toward finding a cure for childhood and adult cancer.
A number of local residents were recognised for their service to the Jewish community. Watsons Bay resident Allan Boyd Vidor, President of Jewish Care, received a Members of the Order (AM). Rose Bay local, Peter Kevin Smaller, National President of the Jewish National Fund, was honoured with a Medal (OAM), as was Rabbi Chaim Nota Ingram for his work across many areas of Jewish life.
Alex Gottshall dedicated the last 40 years to the media industry with a strong emphasis on pro bono work for charities, including the Salvation Army, for which he has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
Said Commissioner James Condon of the Salvation Army, “his deep commitment in serving Australia’s most vulnerable, dispossessed and lonely people is wholehearted and makes an ongoing, practical contribution to the wellbeing of others”.
In acknowledging his award he paid tribute to his heritage: “My sister, Eva and I are children of Holocaust survivors who came to Australia to start a new life after their entire families perished under the Nazis, yet they always believed the world is a much better place when there is kindness, respect and understanding,” he said.
“They imbued in us ongoing love for this wonderful country, dating back to its First Peoples, and raised us to appreciate the importance of community service.”
Reflecting the variety in the awards list, AM recipient, Garth Porter, who now resides in Vaucluse, is known for playing the keyboards in the 70s band ‘Sherbet’, alongside Daryl Braithwaite. Their hits ‘Summer Love’ and ‘Howzat’ made them an international sensation.
Paddington resident Zeljko Bedic was issued an Order of Australia medal for using his musical talents to raise money for charity.
This included his highly successful charity CD for Croatia, ‘Stop the War in Croatia’, and his Suicide Prevention song ‘Hold On’.