June 16, 2024 9:55 PM

Queen’s Honours for Upper Hunter Women


Joplin Higgins has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her services to law in the 2021 Queens Birthday Honour Roll. Above Right: Dr Patrice Newell has been recognised for her significant services to the environment and sustainable farming practices with a Member of the Order (AM). Photo credit Grant Matthews

By Jem Anshaw

As many of us were enjoying a relaxing long weekend there were two Upper Hunter Shire residents that were kept busy with phone calls and messages congratulating them for their inclusion on the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honour Roll.

Joplin Higgins has been recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her services to law, and Dr Patrice Newell a Member of the Order (AM) for her significant services to the environment and sustainable farming practices.

“I received an email from the Governor General two weeks ago, it took me by surprise that I was nominated, I am trying to figure out who nominated me,” Joplin said of the surprise when learning of her recognition.

“I’ve dedicated my career to servicing regional and rural communities but in particular servicing women in those communities.

“I have always been very aligned to the issues that women face and I understood very early in my career that sometimes women don’t have a voice and I have used my voice to help those women in our community.”

Joplin always thought she would become a lawyer but has spent time in other sectors gaining life experience which she feels make her more relatable to her clients.

“Women come to me with very complex trauma, they come to me with emotional needs and most importantly they require legal assistance,” she explained.

Dr Newell has been advocating for the environment since coming to the area and says that it is thanks to the community she has received the citation.

“You don’t know why you get it, you don’t know what the defining thing was that triggered it,” she said.

“I have been talking about environmental issues for a long time, together with many other people here in the Hunter, I feel like I have been a part of many different environmental conversations.”

Her passion for promoting sustainable farming practices is something she has been doing since getting involved with agriculture, observing that the industry has an unhealthy relationship with chemicals.

“They are embedded in the culture of agriculture – chemical usage is going up, not down,” she said.

“We live in an ecology, and we are poisoning it again and again and again.”

Both women have an extensive resume of local committees and groups they have been involved with and it just shows their passion for the area they call home.

Despite the announcement of their accolades, it will be business as usual – Dr Newell spent the week harvesting olives and Joplin was in court.

“I imagine my clients will go ‘yep, back to it Jop’,” Joplin wrapped up with a laugh.