Honours and awards are a way of recognising people who are special. They are a tribute to their achievements and intended to inspire others.
That is what the Order of Australia does. It recognises and says thank you to those Australians who are dedicated and determined to achieve their best, and to serve their fellow Australians - those Australians who are united by a commitment to Australia and to all humanity.
Prior to 1975:
Australians were honoured under the British honours system.
From 14 February 1975:
Australia established its own honours system “for the purpose of according recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or for meritorious service”.
The most important difference between the Order of Australia and the British honours system (Imperial awards) was the method of selecting recipients. Imperial awards were made on the recommendation of Heads of Government (ie politicians). Order of Australia awards are made only on the recommendation of the Council for the Order of Australia. It’s independence is paramount.
This means that although an Australian politician can sponsor or nominate people for Order of Australia awards, they cannot choose the recipients.