LCA/NZ members Chris Halbert and David Mattiske have been recognised in the Australia Day 2021 Honours List.
Chris Halbert, who received a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to the history of Australian Rules football, and to music, is the founding director of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) History Centre and has managed the centre in a volunteer capacity since its establishment in 2014. A former singing teacher at the University of Adelaide’s Elder Conservatorium of Music, Chris has also been a member of the Bethlehem Lutheran Church Adelaide choir and one of its choir librarians for approximately 18 years.
When she opened the email notifying her of the award, Chris said she initially ‘thought someone was pulling my leg’, but was ‘delighted and honoured’ to receive the award.
The coordinator of music for the LCA’s Alive!175 anniversary performance at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre in 2013, Chris is passionate about church music. ‘The Lutheran Church has a wonderful musical heritage and I don’t want to be a part of the generation that loses that’, she said.
She paid tribute to the fellow volunteers who serve with her at the SANFL History Centre and in Bethlehem’s music ministry. ‘Volunteers are something to be treasured’, she said. ‘They’ve got commonsense, wisdom and experience.’
Chris helped establish the SANFL History Centre to collect and preserve league memorabilia, including items from the career of her husband, former Sturt premiership captain, South Australian State and All-Australian footballer, 1961 Magarey Medallist and SANFL club coach, John Halbert. Also a member at Bethlehem, John has twice been recognised in honours lists – in 2009 with a Member of the Order of Australia award (AM) and 1969 as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
Chris’s two sisters also have received honours. Alison Stillwell was also awarded an OAM in the Australia Day list this year for service to the community of Kingston, South Australia, while Elizabeth Koch was awarded an OAM in the 2006 Queen’s Birthday list for ‘service to music education’ and was made an AM in the 2016 list for ‘significant service to the performing arts’.
A long-term member of Trinity Lutheran Church, at Southport in Queensland, David Mattiske was awarded an OAM in the general division for ‘service to veterans and their families, and to the community’.
Now 95, David was an Able Seaman aboard Royal Australian Navy cruiser HMAS Shropshire in the Pacific during World War II, from the age of 18 to 20. Part of a team of lookouts during the pivotal Battle for Leyte Gulf in the Philippines in late 1944, David was awarded the Philippine Liberation Medal in 1995. His words are immortalised on the memorial wall of one of the four engagements of Leyte Gulf, the Battle of Surigao Strait: ‘Let us pray that we never have another world war.’
He has returned to the Philippines five times since WWII and hopes to again visit in October this year – ‘God willing and health prevailing’ – for the 77th anniversary of the famous amphibious operation. He wrote the book Fire Across the Pacific, which was published in 2000, and rates the relationships he and others have built with the Philippines’ embassy, ambassadors and staff since the war as ‘by far the most important thing’ he has done.
David, who was made a Life Member of the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) in 1964 and has been a member of the Naval Historical Society of Australia since 2000, said it was a ‘great honour’ to receive his OAM.
The congratulations of the church are offered to these recipients and any other members honoured with awards.