When people think of Leigh Sales, they often picture her grilling a politician on 7.30. But for the host of ABC’s flagship current affairs program, a different style of interviewing is just as valuable.
“I feel the most satisfaction when I can help somebody [discuss] something difficult,” said Sales, one of 15 Australian journalists recognised in this year's Queen’s Birthday honours list.
“I want them to come out the other end and feel it was a helpful experience, not a horrible experience.”
Leigh Sales, host of ABC’s 7.30 program.Credit:Peter Brew Bevan
“For our society to function as well as it can, we need people of principle and integrity to stand up when they see something wrong,” Sales said. “I really worry about the message this sends to [whistleblowers].”
ABC chair Ita Buttrose, who last week vowed to fight “any attempts to muzzle the national broadcaster”, has been made a Companion of the Order – the highest grade of recognition – for eminent service to the media, arts and health sectors.
Her status as a community role model was also acknowledged.
“My father [Charles Buttrose] was my role model and hero,” she said. “I was 11 when I decided I wanted to be a journalist and follow in Dad’s footsteps.”
ABC chair Ita Buttrose.Credit:Steven Siewert
In a career spanning more than six decades, Buttrose launched the ground-breaking women’s magazine Cleo, edited The Australian Women’s Weekly, and worked across television, radio and newspapers.
A former president of Alzheimer’s Australia, Buttrose remains an ambassador for the organisation, now called Dementia Australia.
“It’s a chronic disease, not a normal part of ageing,” she said. “Maybe they can’t do all the things they once did – but a person with dementia is still a person. They can still paint or play musical instruments or sing in a choir. There are all sorts of ways to make people with dementia feel valued and respected.”
Other Member of the Order appointees include author and commentator Jane Caro; former cricketer and TV host Mike Whitney; economics journalist Peter Martin; and Campbell Reid, a former editor of The Daily Telegraph and The Australian.
Retired ABC presenter Rachael Kohn, who produced and hosted various programs about religion and spirituality, was appointed an Officer of the Order for her service to broadcast media and Jewish studies.
Medals of the Order were awarded to The Sydney Morning Herald's first female sports writer Louise Evans, who also worked for News Corp, Australian Associated Press and the ABC; Lisa Sweeney, whose four-decade career includes print, radio and television; former Australian Story producer and The 7.30 Report correspondent Judy Tierney; retired sports journalist Ken Sutcliffe; and co-host of Channel 10’s The Project, Carrie Bickmore, who started the Beanies 4 Brain Cancer foundation after losing her husband to the disease in 2010.
Carrie Bickmore at the Channel Ten season launch at the International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour,Credit:Janie Barrett
Since it launched in 2015, the foundation has raised almost $11.5 million.
“Seeing the work that is being done with the money we have granted is so encouraging,” Bickmore said.
“The scientists and researchers … are the ones who deserve recognition.”
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