The comedian Tim Minchin, Kath & Kim co-creater Jane Turner and three former Liberal premiers are among the recipients on an Australia Day honours list that is 41.6% women.
At age 19, the LGBTQ+ activist Georgie Stone is this year’s youngest honours recipient, receiving the medal of the Order of Australia alongside her mother, Rebekah Robertson, for their work as a mother-daughter team for transgender youth and parents.
The oldest recipient, at 97, is Colin Hamley, a second world war veterans’ advocate and former prisoner of war, who also received an OAM.
Hamley told Guardian Australia it was “marvellous” to be recognised, and praised his youngest counterpart, Stone, as “remarkable”.
The awards have had a historical imbalance of only 33% women receiving honours since they were founded in 1975.
This year, 41.6% of those recognised were women, up 1.6% from the 2019 Queen’s birthday honours, but below 50% parity.
In a statement, the governor general, David Hurley, said this was “part of a long-term, positive trend that [he] would like to continue”.
“It’s a diverse list – with the percentage of women recipients in the Order of Australia above 41% – but could be even more so,” he said.
Multiple Liberal politicians received honours this year: former Queensland premier Campbell Newman, former New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell, former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu and former immigration minister Amanda Vanstone.
Margaret Beazley, the current governor of NSW and former president of the NSW court of appeal, was made a companion of the Order of Australia (AC) – the highest civilian award in the honours system.
Larissa Behrendt, a law professor and the first Indigenous woman to graduate from Harvard University, was made an officer of the Order of Australia (AO).
Behrendt was recognised for her contribution to the law, Indigenous education and the arts. The academic has won literary awards for her 2004 fiction book, Home, and an Australian Directors Guild award for her 2018 documentary, After the Apology.
The actor Hugo Weaving, musician Keith Urban and cricketer Ian Healy also joined her as officers.
The actor Rachel Griffiths, Strictly Ballroom star Paul Mercurio, director and actor Rachael Maza, INXS co-founder Andrew Farris and the first Indigenous director of the Sydney festival, Wesley Enoch, were all made members of the Order of Australia (AM).
Turner, the co-creator of Kath & Kim and an actor on the sketch show the D-Generation, received the medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
Stone told Guardian Australia she was “really surprised” but pleased to be the youngest recipient on this year’s list.
“It was an incredible honour. It always feels good to be acknowledged, and to be 19 and be acknowledged, it was really lovely – and a bit overwhelming.”
She paid tribute to her mother, the actor and author Rebekah Robertson, who founded the transgender support group Transcend.
“I’m so proud of her. I’m really glad she has been acknowledged as well because I would not be able to be here and do what I am doing without her support.
“We’re definitely a team but I am glad that she has been acknowledged for the work she has done herself. She started the first ever parents-led support group for parents of trans people in Australia.”
Hamley, 97, said he was “very honoured to receive this decoration”.
“Somebody told me I was the oldest one. It feels marvellous, it feels very satisfying and for all the work I have put in over the years.”
He also praised Stone’s achievements and wished her good luck. “That’s remarkable, at that age,” he said.
He said he had not yet told his grandchildren but was “sure” they would be proud.
“They don’t really know yet. I haven’t disclosed to anyone really. The only one I have disclosed it to is the person who sent in the nomination in the first place – Jenny Davidson – who is the secretary of our veterans association.”
Stone said she hoped the representation of young people and women would continue to increase.
“It’s great that it is improving, but what is exciting is the prospect that it is going to keep improving as well. Women forever had been doing incredible things and doing incredible work and it is so important that we are acknowledged because that paves the way for other women, coming forward.
“My generation are very eager to get out into the world and stand up for what we believe in. There are so many young people I know who are very keen to stand up for their own rights and so I feel very honoured, as a young person, to be honoured this year.
“And I think that is going to continue happening. A lot of the time we are told that we have to wait our turn and wait until we are older but I don’t think it has to be the case.”