Our region’s honour recipients

John Takac said he began volunteering as a lifesaver at 18-years-old. (Supplied)


Anglesea’s Peter Matthews is now an Officer of the Order of Australia for his his distinguished service to cave and karst surveying, documentation and publication, and to speleological organisations.

Mr Matthews has been chair of the International Union of Speleology since 1996 and is a Fellow (honorary life member) of the Australian Speleological Federation.

Mr Matthews received a bronze medal from Royal Humane Society in 1968 and has written a chapter for the publication ‘Encyclopedia of Caves’ published in 2019.

Mr Matthews drafted the original code for cave and karst numbering in 1979, developed the national digital Australian Karst Index (1974-1999) and is a foundation member of the Victorian Speleological Association since 1967.


Little River’s John Takac has dedicated almost 40 years of volunteer service to Life Saving Victoria and was awarded an Emergency Services Medal in recognition of his commitment.

“It’s not something anyone sets out to do. It’s surprising,“ Mr Takac said.

“It probably hasn’t really hit me at this point, I haven’t really thought too much about it.

“Some of the people that have gotten it in the past are people I look up to…it’s very humbling to be associated with those sorts of people,“ he said.


Aireys Inlet’s Barbara Wilson was the recipient of an OAM for service to the environmental sciences and to tertiary education.

Professor Wilson has been an associate professor for School of Biological Sciences at Deakin University since 2003 and on the Victorian Scientific Advisory Committee, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, since 2020.


Bambra’s Janice Watt received an OAM for service to women and to public administration.

Ms Watt has been heavily involved in advocating for women who have been a victim of domestic violence.

Ms Watt received the City of Greater Geelong Women in Community Life, Human Rights and Gender

Equality Award in 2018, the Leadership of Sexual Assault Reform Strategy, Courts Award, Department of Justice in 2010 and an Achievement Award from the Department of Premier and Cabinet in 2000 and 2002.

Ms Watt was manager of the sexual assault reform unite at the Department of Justice from 2007 to 2010, an outreach worker at Barwon Domestic Violence Outreach Service from 1992 to 1995 and a crisis worker at Kyewong Women’s shelter from 1988 to 1992.


Geelong’s Gael Perry was awarded an OAM for service to multicultural aged care and to the community.

Ms Perry was chair of Multicultural Aged Care Services from 2014 to 2019 and a board member since 2002 and former chair and board member of Colac Area Health Hospital.

Ms Perry has also held positions at St Mary of the Angels Roman Catholic Parish, Karingal – formerly Geelong DoCare – Lazarus House Geelong, Sacred Heart College Geelong – including the Old Collegians Association – and Colac Otway Shire.


Wandana Heights man Geoffrey Boehm received an OAM on Monday for his service to the community through a range of roles.

He has volunteered at several Geelong clubs and is a life member with the Woodville District Basketball Club and West Beach Apex club.

Mr Boehm was Lions Club of Geelong president in 2011-12, 2013-14 and 2016-17 and has been a board member and member since 2009.

He has been a parishioner at St Luke’s Congregation, Highton, and is currently the Convener of its Men’s Shed.

Previously Mr Boehm has been awarded with a James D Richardson Award from the Australian Lions Foundation and as a Melvin Jones Fellow with Lions Clubs International Foundation.


Newtown resident Associate Professor Deborah Friedman received a public service medal to acknowledge her ‘outstanding public service to health in Victoria’, particularly for the Covid response.

Professor Friedman has a background in infectious diseases, and joined the Victorian Department of Health in mid-2020.

Professor Friedman was part of the team who established local public health units, capable of contact tracing.


Belmont’s Alan Crosbie was awarded an OAM for service to the community of Geelong.

Mr Crosbie has a long history with Lifeline.

He was Lifeline Geelong and Barwon Region Chair from 2011 to 2019 and a board member from 1997 to 2019.

He has been Geelong Hockey Association treasurer since 2014, was secretary from 2019 to 2021 and public officer in 2019.

Mr Crosbie was president of the Belmont Primary School Council from 2004 to 2008 and a member for many years.

He was chair of Assisted Reproductive Technology Support from 1993 to 1996, a former treasurer at Winchelsea Pre-School, captain of Winchelsea Fire Brigade from 1970 to 1983 and won an Outstanding Parent Award, Barwon South Western Region in 2007.