Appointments to the Council for the Order of Australia

Media release
14 Oct 2022
Prime Minister

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is pleased to announce that the Governor-General has made four appointments to the Council for the Order of Australia on the Government’s recommendation.

Reconciliation advocate, Ms Shelley Reys AO, has been appointed Chair of the Council for the Order of Australia.

Ms Reys is a Djirribul woman of Far North Queensland and will be the first woman and First Nations woman to be appointed Chair of the Council. She has significant governance experience through previous roles as the inaugural Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia and Vice Chair of the National Australia Day Council.

Ms Reys is currently a Board member of KPMG Australia, the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (Brisbane 2032) and Chair of her own firm, Arrilla Indigenous Consulting.

Ms Annie Butler, Ms Cathy McGowan AO and Professor Samina Yasmeen AM have been appointed to the Council as community representatives.

Ms Butler is an experienced registered nurse and was appointed Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation in 2018.

Ms McGowan was the independent Federal Member for Indi, from 2013 to 2019, former Chair of Regional Women’s Advisory Council and past president of Women in Agriculture.

Professor Yasmeen is a researcher and teacher at the University of Western Australia, and director and founder of the University’s Centre for Muslim States and Societies.

Australia is a proudly diverse country and the appointments of Ms Reys, Ms Butler, Ms McGowan and Professor Yasmeen means the Council for the Order of Australia is more reflective of our diversity, with all four of the women appointed having close links to the community.

The Council makes recommendations to the Governor-General for appointments and awards to the Order of Australia.

Appointments to the Council are made by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd).

Quotes attributable to Prime Minister Albanese:

“I am proud to recommend Ms Reys, Professor Yasmeen, Ms Butler and Ms McGowan to the Council for the Order of Australia and congratulate them on their appointments.

“Australia is a proudly diverse country and it’s important the Council represents our community.

“Ms Reys will be the first Indigenous woman appointed to the role of Council Chair, while Professor Yasmeen, Ms Butler and Ms McGowan bring their own diverse backgrounds and perspectives to their new roles.

“I would like to thank the outgoing members for their significant contribution to the Australian community.”

Biographical information on the recommended appointees:

Ms Shelley Reys AO – Chair

  • Ms Reys was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2012 for distinguished service to the Indigenous community, reconciliation and social inclusion.
  • She shares a passion for helping the Australian workforce to work in First Nations and reconciliation spaces with greater skill and confidence.
  • Her vision is to create a culturally competent Australia, one workplace at a time. Ms Reys is an advocate for improving educational, health and employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Ms Reys is also the CEO of Arrilla Indigenous Consulting, Partner and Board member of KPMG Australia and Board Member of the Brisbane Organising Committee for the Olympic Games 2032.

Professor Samina Yasmeen AM – Community representative

  • Professor Yasmeen was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2014 for significant service to international relations as an academic, adviser and social welfare advocate.
  • Professor Yasmeen was born in Pakistan. She is a researcher and teacher at the University of Western Australia, School of Social Sciences and director and founder of the University’s Centre for Muslim States and Societies.

Ms Annie Butler – Community representative

  • Ms Butler was appointed Assistant Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation in 2014 and Federal Secretary in 2018.
  • Ms Butler is an experienced registered nurse and is passionate about improving Australian healthcare.

Ms Cathy McGowan AO – Community representative

  • Ms McGowan was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to the community by raising awareness about issues affecting women in regional, rural and remote communities.
  • Ms McGowan was the independent Federal Member for Indi, from 2013 to 2019. She was the former Chair of Regional Women’s Advisory Council and past president of Women in Agriculture.