Opera and festival director Lindy Hume, choreographer and dance educator Chrissie Parrott, actor Lorrae Desmond, pianist David Helfgott, general manager Jill Smith, and artistic director Mary Lou Jelbart are among the arts figures recognised in the 2021 Australia Day Honours.

There are four levels of awards and recognition: Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), Member of the Order of Australia (AM), and Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). This year, 844 people were acknowledged across the four categories in the General Division of the Order of Australia. Only 36.7 percent of this year’s recipients are female compared to 41.6 percent last year.

Lindy Hume. Photograph © Michelle Dupont

Meanwhile, veteran journalist Kerry O’Brien has rejected the AO he was to have received today in protest at the decision to award Margaret Court the country’s highest honour, citing the former tennis great’s “hurtful and divisive criticisms relating to the fundamental rights of the LGBTQ+ community”. Clarinetist, saxophonist and music educator Mark Walton has returned the OAM he received in 2005 for the same reason.

Among the many arts...