Outstanding educators honoured on Australia Day

Current and former educators have been recognised for their commitment to education 

The contribution that Victoria's outstanding education professionals make to our community was highlighted in this year's Australia Day Honours, with five teachers, principals and education professionals among those recognised on the day.

Serpell Primary School Principal Wilma Culton and Victorian Space Science Education Centre founding Director Michael Pakakis were honoured for their incredible leadership and commitment to education.

Wilma Culton — empowering new generations

Wilma Culton was recognised for her outstanding contribution to education with a prestigious Public Service Medal.

Wilma has worked tirelessly during her career to improve student outcomes as a member of a statewide advisory group of principals, responsible for developing system-wide strategies for school improvement. 

'As the recipient of a 2021 Public Service Medal, I feel so grateful to have had a career in education that has been full of inspirational and passionate leaders, teachers and students,' Wilma said.

'Education, in my view, is about empowering and supporting everyone in the school to imagine and access positive and promising lives and opportunities.

'As leaders and teachers, we are charged with the responsibility of shaping new generations and we have the immense privilege of seeing the results of our work over time, in community leadership and innovation. 

'I am honoured to accept the award on behalf of all those in schools who give so much of themselves to others every day.'

Michael Pakakis — inspiring a love of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)

Michael Pakakis, currently based at Strathmore Secondary College, was also honoured, receiving a Member of the Order (AM) for his significant service to STEM education in Victoria.

In a career that included helping to establish the Victorian Space Science Education Centre (VSSEC), Michael has inspired a generation of students and teachers to embrace science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

'It is a great honour to receive this award. It is also a recognition of the hard work and commitment of the team that has worked with me over the last 20 years, which has led to VSSEC's success and international acknowledgement as a centre of excellence of STEM,' Michael said.

Recognising outstanding service

Australia Day Honours recognise the outstanding service and contributions of Australians from all walks of life.

Along with Michael and Wilma, congratulations to the other Victorian education professionals who received Australia Day Honours:

  • Dr David Howes, Department Deputy Secretary, Schools and Regional Services
  • Lynn Glover, former CEO, Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority
  • Anthony (Phillip) Murphy, Executive Director, Student Journey Transformation, Bendigo Kangan Institute.


In recognising some of Victoria's leading educators, this year's honours list is a great celebration of the life-changing impact that our teachers, trainers and educators make in their work, every day.

Department Secretary Jenny Atta congratulated honours recipients for their exceptional contributions and leadership in education and public service.

'I'm very proud to see the commitment of our educators who were recognised with these significant honours,' Jenny said.

'Their dedication, achievements and tireless efforts have had a lasting impact on education in Victoria and the public we serve. Along with my Departmental colleagues, I offer them my sincere congratulations.'

Find out more

For the full list of Australia Day Award recipients, refer to the 2021 Australia Day Honours List.