On Friday 26 January 2024, Sue Smith from Rockhampton received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the arts as an artist and administrator.

Sue has been working in the art industry for around 50 years as a curator, writer, administrator, awards judge, and artist.

From being a Curator at the Queensland Art Gallery to Consultant Director and Acting Curator at the Brisbane City Gallery, and Manager of Arts for Rockhampton Regional Council and Director of the Rockhampton Art Gallery to Art Collection Manager at CQUniversity, she has been involved in countless artistic ventures.

Sue said she was pleased that awards like this throw a spotlight on the arts and the importance of the arts for individuals and communities, as this sometimes was overlooked.

“Art has the ability to add joy, beauty and vibrancy to peoples’ lives,” she said.

“I’m grateful for being honoured and having people around me who have supported me and my career over the years”: my family, friends and colleagues.

“You don’t achieve anything positive without working with people, so I consider this award something that I share with a lot of other people.”

She said some of her biggest achievements came from her time working in Brisbane, Rockhampton, Townsville, Emerald and Winton to help progress the careers of emerging and established artists.

She also said an art museum’s legacy for the future is its permanent collection, and being able to build collections in Rockhampton and Townsville was one of her biggest achievements.

“I was able to do this with the help of artists and donors to make stronger collections in those places,” Sue said.

Sue said that she believed that without art and art activities that bring people together, people would be lonely, more isolated and not as happy.

The Australia Day Awards showcase an important message to her of considering the benefit of the various things people do in life and their achievements.

“We’re all working together to make a better society and make a contribution where we can,” Sue said.

The Australian Honours and Awards system recognised the outstanding service and contributions of Australians.