Worthy locals receive Australia Day honours

Proud Aussie: Karen Murphy, pictured here winning the world bowls singles championship in 2016, has been made a Member of the Order of Australia. Picture: Bowls Australia
Proud Aussie: Karen Murphy, pictured here winning the world bowls singles championship in 2016, has been made a Member of the Order of Australia. Picture: Bowls Australia

A melanoma warrior, bowls superstar and proud public servant are this year's south-western Sydney names on the Australia Day Honours list.

Jay Allen, formerly of Bradbury and Tahmoor, received an OAM for his tireless work raising awareness of and funding to research melanoma.

Mr Allen began his fight after being diagnosed with the skin cancer more than a decade ago. The passionate campaigner went on to create the Melanoma March - marching various distances in various locations across Australia - to help raise funds for the Melanoma Institute, and joined the fight against solariums in the UK.

Mr Allen, who lives at Balmoral Village, told ACM he never would have believed his own brush with death would later lead to one of his country's highest honours.

"It was totally unexpected," he said. "I was just a truck driver who was diagnosed, and I wanted to give back. I felt there was a big gap in the melanoma space and I wanted to help fill it. I feel that it's my job - I was diagnosed for a reason.

"To anyone out there who has been affected by melanoma - this is for you. Especially the lot of people who have lost loved ones and do it tough every day - I'm going to keep going and keep doing all I can for you."

Mr Allen, who has finished up his work with the Melanoma Institute and is branching into consultancy education work as 'The Melanoma Man', said he felt great support from the Macarthur community and hoped people affected by melanoma also felt supported by him.

"Being able to support people across the world keeps me going," he said.

"If you need support, just reach out and I'm happy to fill that gap. I want to be a good influence with my platform, and be a good role model for my children."

Mr Allen has helped raise more than $1 million for melanoma research since he began campaigning, and was the subject of a TV documentary. He was also nominated for the NSW Local Hero of the year in the 2018 Australia Day Awards.

More information: themelanomaman.com.au.

Using his platform: Jay Allen has taken his fight against melanoma global and hopes to continue raising awareness well into the future.

Using his platform: Jay Allen has taken his fight against melanoma global and hopes to continue raising awareness well into the future.

Cabramatta Bowling Club representative - and world champion lawn bowler - Karen Murphy was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to the sport of bowls.

Ms Murphy, who now lives at Shell Cove and is retired from international bowls, is one of the most successful people the bowls world has ever encountered.

Some of the 46-year-old's incredible achievements include playing in 668 tests for Australia, representing the green and gold at the Commonwealth Games five times, winning five world championships and vice-captaining the Australian Jackaroos for seven years.

Ms Murphy, who also spent time as a bowler with St Johns Park Bowling Club, said it was a "huge honour" to add those two extra letters to the end of her name.

"It was a big surprise, initially, but I've known for a few weeks now and it's sunk in," she said. "I'm really happy that I get to share this honour with family and friends and clubmates at Cabramatta, and all the stakeholders who have supported me over the years.

"It's a long journey over your career, filled with love and passion, and you don't do that alone. This AM honour is for everyone who has been on this ride with me and supported me through the ups and downs."

Ms Murphy said the AM honours ranks among her three greatest career highlights.

"Winning Commonwealth gold in the pairs with my good mate Lynsey Clarke in 2006 and the singles world championships in 2012 and 2016 are up there as far as career highlights go," she said. "But this AM is so great, not just for me but for our sport. Bowls is not a high-profile sport and any achievements that bowls can gain further improves the profile of our sport, which is wonderful for everyone in the bowls community."

Ms Murphy said Cabramatta had been a "fantastic" support throughout her career.

"The club at Cabramatta is really wonderful, they've all been very supportive and I love playing there and have done for 12 or more years," she said. "Every time you go out and play in something they're right there behind you. The culture around the club is very good and we really rally behind each other.

"They've been a really big part of this AM and I hope all the members enjoy it too."

Ms Murphy said, now that she was retired, she felt she had a great opportunity to give back to the sport.

She hopes that her example can encourage other women to take up the sport, especially young women.

"It's my time to encourage young girls to get into the sport," she said. "I was quite unique as a junior, because I was the only young female player coming through. I hope if I do have a legacy that it is to encourage young girls to engage in bowls."

Wallacia's Jody Grima is the third local name on the honours list. Ms Grima has received a meritorious award for her work as executive director of service delivery at Service NSW.

She is credited as 'creating a diverse and inclusive workforce reflecting the community her teams serve' and a 'strong advocate for the development of her 3000 frontline team members'.

Ms Grima's career in NSW public service spans 20 years.