Member for Fenner | Shine a light on our quiet achievers

When working with people with disabilities, Pam Beckhouse kept faith that her students had the capacity to learn.

“Be positive. Never stop. Keep trying,” she counsels. “One day, something will happen and you’ll realise they were taking it in all that time.”

For her 25 years working as a teaching assistant at the then Koomarri School and Black Mountain School, Mrs Beckhouse was honoured last June with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). 

She joins some amazing people, like Ian and Christine Lofts, who were honoured in 2017 for fostering 380 children – many with disabilities – at their home in Goulburn.

I was at the ceremony when they received their award, and just thinking about the service they’ve given the Australian community made me choke up with emotion when I spoke with them afterwards.

As we approach the Australia Day honours, why not think about an unsung hero you’d like to nominate?

The honours lists are still underweight in their representation of women (who comprised 37 percent of the last group of awards), and people from a racial or ethnic minority. 

So if you know someone whose quiet service to the Canberra community should be recognised, just go to and quietly nominate them.

It doesn’t take long, and you’ll be glad you did it.

  • Andrew Leigh is the Federal Member for Fenner, and his website is
Andrew Leigh

Andrew Leigh