Each Australia Day (26th January, for the time being), part of the festivities is the awarding of Honours to various people who have made exceptional contributions to the Australian community.
Often these honours go to former politicians or sportspeople whose political or sporting excellence, at least in my opinion, has primarily benefited themselves.
Sometimes though, the committee gets it right, and awards Honours to people who, in addition to excellence in their chosen profession, have used their position and their skills to benefit the wider community.
One such case is Cheryl Praeger, my PhD co-supervisor. Of course, she has outstanding personal accomplishments such as publishing hundreds of research papers, making history as the second Australian female professor of mathematics and being the recipient of numerous awards and accolades. But it is for her advocacy of the study of mathematics at all levels and her tireless efforts to enable and encourage women in particular to study mathematics that warrants this award.
The Companion of the Order of Australia is the highest Honour in the Australian system, and Cheryl is one of only four recipients this year.
For more details, see the ABC News announcement