The Victoria Day Award for Public and Community Service is awarded to Judith Durham.
As lead vocalist of Australia’ s first global chart-topping band The Seekers in the 1960s, Ms Judith Durham became Australia’s first international “pop princess”. The Seekers often outsold The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who, with legendary hits like “Georgy Girl” (nominated for an Academy Award as Best Song in a Movie),
“The Carnival Is Over” (statistically No. 30 in UK Top 100 Best Selling Singles of All Time™ ) and “I’ll Never Find Another You”.
Judith was born in Melbourne in 1943 and attended Ruyton Girls School. Later she studied classical piano music with the renowned teacher, Ronald Farren Price. As a teenager, she dreamed of starring in opera or musicals, but started in traditional jazz, gospel and blues before joining the Seekers, after leaving the Seekers she had a very successful solo career.
Judith has been an egg-free vegetarian since 1968, advocating a lifestyle that is non-smoking, environmentally friendly, decaffeinated, teetotal, drug free and cruelty free.
Judith says her commitment to more than 50 community organisations was born of adversity. ”Particularly with my husband having died of motor neurone disease for me that was a huge realisation that there was something I could do in addition to being an entertainer.”
She has been National Patron of the Motor Neurone Disease Association of Australia since the death of her beloved husband, brilliant pianist Ron Edgeworth, in 1994.
In recent years Judith has taken part in a numbers of tours with the Seekers in those appearance, Judith supports The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, young people through Kids Under Cover and Variety Clubs, and The Lord Mayor™ s Charitable Foundation. The Royalties from the album The Australian Cities Suite released in March 2012, a major work composed and sung by Judith, with Orchestra Victoria under the baton of conductor and arranger Kevin Hocking, aid The Lord Mayor™ s Charitable Foundation and the 400 charities they support, including the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Orchestra Victoria;
Judith has received many awards in her own right or with the other members of the Seekers including, Australian of the Year in 1967, induction into the Australian Record Industry Association™ s (ARIA) Hall of Fame, Medal of the Order Of Australia (OAM) (for services to music, particularly as an entertainer and composer), Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) (for distinguished service to the performing arts as an entertainer, through seminal contributions to Australian music), and as a supporter of a range of not-for-profit organisations. Award by Rotary International of a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of her work on behalf of charities, award of Centenary Medal by the Governor-General for service to Australian society through music.