In the ultimate honour for any proud Australian, he has made the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 2019.
Mr Jackman, 50, says being appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia – the highest merit in the country’s only order of chivalry – is “especially emotional and humbling”.
“I am an immensely proud Australian, and am so grateful for the opportunities I have received by being raised there,” he said.
His contributions to the performing arts and the global community helped him achieve this honour, with his portrayal as Wolverine in the X-Men films among the many on-screen performances lauded in the honours list.
Mr Jackman’s stage career has also been celebrated, with impressive roles in Broadway plays including The River, A Steady Rain and The Boy from Oz. The Sydney man’s achievements go well beyond acting, with his contributions to the global community also helping his appointment as a Companion. Mr Jackman’s philanthropic efforts include as a benefactor for the Fight Cancer Foundation since 1996 and about ten years raising funds for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
“The countless teachers, mentors, institutions who have supported me along the way are immeasurable, and I will always be in my country’s debt,” he said. He isn’t the only actor to make the Queen’s Birthday Honours List this year. Joining him are both Eric Bana and Sigrid Thornton, who have been appointed a Member and an Officer of the Order of Australia respectively. Mr Bana’s parents made a similar decision to Mr Jackman’s. After all, the two actors are born just a couple of months apart.
“The first thing I did when I found out about the award was think of my parents,” Mr Bana said.
His Croatian father and German mother both made the long boat journey to Australia after World War II.
The 50-year-old from Melbourne insists Monday’s acknowledgement came as a complete surprise and that it was “not at all something that had occurred to me on my radar”.
“It’s a really nice and lovely acknowledgement,” Mr Bana said. Mr Bana has previously spoke of his father’s struggles with racism in Australia, but believes he would be “really, really proud and thrilled” with this achievement.
Since Mr Bana’s television debut on Tonight Live with Steve Vizard in 1993, he has gone on to appear in some of Hollywood’s most recognisable blockbusters. These include the 2004 film Troy, where he played Trojan prince Hector alongside Brad Pitt and his role as the Hulk in 2003.
Like his close friend Mr Jackman, Mr Bana has made philanthropic efforts of his own, including as an ambassador for Youth off the Streets since 2004 and as Patron of the Australian Childhood Foundation for 11 years.
Ms Thornton has been recognised for her contributions to the performing arts across film, television and stage.
She has many theatre credits including Black Swan State Theatre Company’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire and Opera Australia’s A Little Night Music.
On television, she has appeared in popular series Seachange, Wentworth and Underbelly.
Ms Thornton has also contributed to many professional arts organisations through board roles. She currently sits on the board of the National Institute of Dramatic Arts and was previously on the Australian Film Institute board.
Women make history in Queen’s honours list
The Queen’s Birthday Honours are set to make history this year, with the highest percentage of women ever on the recipient list.
Women make up 40 per cent of recipients across all tiers of the awards, including five out of the 12 people receiving the top honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).
They include ABC chair Ita Buttrose and former union boss Sharan Burrow. It’s the last honours list for outgoing Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, who has led a push in recent years encouraging people to nominate more women for awards like the Queen’s Birthday Honours and Australia Day awards. “We would all welcome higher recognition of magnificent Australian women,” he said.
“These awards are our opportunity to say to fellow Australians, ‘thank you – without you and your tireless service we wouldn’t be the community or nation that we are’.
“Some names on today’s list are well known. Many more are known only to those they help and serve day-in-day-out. They are all wonderful people and are all worthy of recognition and celebration.” There are 993 Australians in the general division, while 221 people are receiving meritorious and military awards.
The oldest recipient on the Honours list is 99 years old and the youngest is 18. All awardees will receive their honours at ceremonies around the country in coming months.
Former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd and Hollywood star Hugh Jackman are set to receive the top honour, with Mr Rudd dedicating his to indigenous Australians.
“These first Australians are the oldest continuing civilisations on earth, and for those of us who have arrived in recent centuries, it is a privilege to share this vast and ancient continent with them,” he said.
Recipients appointed Officers of the Order of Australia (AO) include former Democrats senator turned domestic violence prevention advocate Natasha Stott Despoja, former top diplomat Geoff Raby and ex-Liberal minister and senator Nick Minchin.
Other awardees include ballet dancer Cunxin Li, actor Sigrid Thornton, former Australian of the year Rosie Batty and former NT chief minister Clare Martin. Actor Eric Bana will become a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), along with journalists Jane Caro and Leigh Sales , as well as singer Guy Sebastian. Creators of fashion label sass & bide, Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton, will also add AM to their names, as will News Corp group executive and AAP chairman Campbell Reid and rugby league figures Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith.
Rosie Batty honoured for tackling violence
Domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty may have closed her foundation and stepped out of the spotlight, but she continues to be honoured for her work. The 2015 Australian of the Year campaigned tirelessly after her 11-year-old son Luke was murdered by his father at cricket practice in Victoria the previous year.
“This is a societal issue that’s always existed, you can’t expect miracles to occur in such a short time,” she previously told AAP about domestic violence. She started the Luke Batty Foundation in 2014 to raise awareness of issues facing victims and to demand action from community leaders.
Her advocacy was key to the establishment of a Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria in 2015, with the state government vowing to enact all 227 recommendations it tabled in 2016.
Ms Batty announced the foundation’s closure in 2018.
“It has been a gruelling and unrelenting four years in the public eye,” she said at the time. “I realise that I can’t keep going at this pace forever. It is unsustainable and I am tired.” Ms Batty was appointed as an officer in the Order of Australia, as part of the Queen’s Birthday honours on Monday, recognising her “distinguished service to the community”.
Melbourne lawyer Richard Leder, who represented Rebel Wilson in her high-profile media defamation case, was awarded a medal in the Order of Australia for his charity work, including with The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.
– with Rebecca Gredley and Caroline Schelle