Melbourne alumni and staff receive top Australian honours

A total of 100 alumni, staff and former staff were honoured for their contribution to Australian society in the latest Queen’s Birthday Honours, with four being recipients of the nation’s top civilian honour – Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC).

The four recipients are film editor Jill Bilcock and three leading academics – neurologist Professor Emeritus Geoffrey Burnstock (MSc 1962, DSc 1971), economist Professor Emeritus Geoffrey Harcourt (BCom(Hons) 1954, MCom 1956, DCom 2003) and art historian Professor Emerita Virginia Spate.

Australian Honours Above: Professor Geoffrey Harcourt (left) and Jill Biscock have both
been awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia.

Ms Bilcock is a Victorian College of the Arts alum, who has been acknowledged for eminent service to the Australian motion picture industry as a film editor, to the promotion and development of the profession, as a role model, and through creative contributions to the nation's cultural identity. A close collaborator with noted director Baz Luhrmann, Ms Bilcock has edited such films as William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge! and Strictly Ballroom.

Professor Burnstock is internationally recognised for the discovery of purinergic neurotransmission – a novel signalling system between cells that is of central importance for many biological processes. In addition to his Australian Honour, he was also recently awarded the Macfarlane Burnet Medal from the Australian Academy of Science – an award honouring his outstanding scientific research in the biological sciences.

Professor Harcourt has been acknowledged for eminent service to higher education as an academic economist and author, particularly in the fields of Post-Keynesian economics, capital theory and economic thought. In a career spanning more than 60 years, he has held academic positions at the University of Adelaide and the Cambridge University, while also holding visiting positions at universities worldwide.

Professor Spate has spent 40 years educating Australians on leading 19th century artists, including Tom Roberts, Claude Monet and Edgar Degas. She was awarded her AC for eminent service to higher education, particularly to art history and theory and to the advanced study of the contemporary arts, as an academic, author and curator, and as a role model for young art historians.

Professor Glyn Davis, Vice-Chancellor, congratulated all members of the Melbourne and staff community who had been honoured for their work.

“It is a pleasure to acknowledge the Australian Honours that these members of our University community have received,” he said.

“On behalf of the University, I congratulate all recipients and wish to thank them for their achievements and contributions.”