Media faces have been recognised in today’s Australia Day Honours.
Medal of the Order of Australia
Peter Hitchener, for service to the broadcast media as a journalist and television presenter, and to the community.
Ray Meagher, for service to the performing arts as an actor.
Kay McGrath, for service to children, and to the broadcast media as a journalist.
Member of the Order of Australia
John Edwards, for significant service to the broadcast media industry as a television producer, and as a role model and mentor.
Andrew O’Keefe, for significant service to the broadcast media as a television presenter, and to social welfare and charitable organisations.
Tony Bonner, for significant service to the performing arts as an actor, to surf lifesaving, and to the community through charitable organisations.
Claire Dobbin, for significant service to the motion picture industry, particularly to national and international film festivals, through education, and to screenwriting.
Also recognised were Anthony Warlow, Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes and Nick Cave.
“I couldn’t actually believe it,” Nine News presenter Peter Hitchener told TV Tonight.
“I was just overjoyed and felt enormously honoured and I still can’t believe it. I’m enormously grateful.
“It’s something that belongs to my colleagues, our team. They’re the ones who do the work and get it out to air every night.”
Hitch has held a range of roles with Nine since 1974. He is Ambassador for Lort Smith Animal Hospital and Zoos Victoria and Patron to Able Australia, Dogs Victoria and Barwon Health, as well as support for the Royal Children’s Hospital RCH1000 Appeal.
“I have the privilege of supporting several community organisations and they are, in the main, run by people who do enormous amounts of work for little or no recognition. So I hope it’s something they share in, as well.
“But this is something that harks back to Sir Eric Pearce who was a big believer in community work.
“It was a way of giving support from somebody they knew and bringing a little bit more publicity to the organisations.”
He also highlighted the Operation Newstart programme run through the Education Department, which sees at-risk youth visiting Nine News studios.
“They bring the kids into the station one day a term and they get to see what happens behind the scenes in television. Then they are put on the spot, in front of a camera and talk and express themselves. It’s challenging but they all love it.
“The tape is played at their graduation and it’s enormously moving. These kids turn their lives around, not because of what I do with them, but the training staff.
“It’s one of those things you don’t talk about much, but it really is important.”
Ironically, Hitch is usually reading the names of those who have been recognised in the Australia Day Honours -but this year he makes news himself.
“I don’t know that I will be reading anything out about myself, this year!”