Beverley’s tireless community work earns her an Australia Day honour

Beverley’s tireless community work earns her an Australia Day honour
Brendan Rees

Beverley Pinder, a former City of Melbourne councillor, businesswoman, and Southbank Rotarian, has been awarded an Australia Day honour for her service to the community through a range of organisations.

Ms Pinder, also Australia’s Miss Universe winner in 1978, was named a recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of her strong work ethic and dedication to helping others through charitable work.

It’s an honour Ms Pinder said that had been “completely unexpected” but one that made her feel “so proud and humbled”.

She has been actively involved in charitable organisations since she emigrated from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to Australia, aged 13.

Throughout her career in public relations, Ms Pinder said she was always mindful of the opportunities that Australia gave her and her family, “to enjoy a level of success and quality of life that would not have been achievable in Sri Lanka”.

She has always felt motivated to “give something back” to Australia, with her most high-profile input being a City of Melbourne councillor for seven years, between 2012 and 2020, particularly as chair of the Homelessness and Disability Advisory Committee portfolios.


Among her community services has been a commitment to the Rotary Club of Southbank, which she described as a long-time passion and another avenue of addressing people experiencing homelessness.


“The attraction to Rotary was magnetic … my DNA is embedded within this service,” she said, adding her role in mentoring young leaders in Rotary and allowing them to “cut their teeth” in board governance, networking and interacting with local government had also been a huge reward.

She has also relished the opportunity of being a patron for the Father Bob Maguire Foundation and a “friend” of Major Brendan Nottle and the Salvation Army; all of which have enriched Ms Pinder’s life through her work of helping the needy for 55 years.

In her personal life, she said winning the Miss Universe Australia title – the first young woman of colour to have done so – gave her the impetus she needed to springboard into public relations and charity work.

Another highlight was meeting the late Dame Phyllis Frost, who worked tirelessly with governments, prison administrators and non-government agencies for improved conditions, which led to Ms Pinder being inducted into the world of “big time” fundraising by the legendary Dame. The target they achieved was a remodelled Maroondah Hospital.

Ms Pinder’s latest achievement has been to help set up Turning Hope Into Action Inc., an entity awaiting registration with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission, and instilling lived experience director, Lisa Peterson, with the leadership and help needed to be the voice for those experiencing homelessness.

Speaking about her prestigious honour, Ms Pinder, who, like many community-minded people, said it was also an award “for those I have helped through my support for various charities, as well as the young women I have mentored through my business”.

“I hope that they share the sense of pride that this award offers, for someone who cares for the less fortunate in our society, but also loves to see young women achieving acceptance and recognition in their new-found home in Melbourne.”

Today, Ms Pinder has a soon-to-be published autobiography in which she hopes to tell a migrant story that “reflects the riches of success on several fronts”.

She encourages those who set a goal in life to adopt her mantra: “if you want it, go after it; this is the only way it will become yours”. •


Caption: Beverley Pinder has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia.

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