Olivia Newton-John was overcome with emotion as she was awarded the country’s highest honour – the Companion of the Order of Australia – in a special ceremony at home in Los Angeles.
It was an overwhelming moment for the 70-year-old, who has established the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in her home town of Melbourne, with the singer reportedly shouting “woohoo” as the medal was placed around her neck by Australia’s ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey.
In a moving speech for the Aussie talent, Hockey reportedly commended Olivia’s optimistic personality, claiming she has “changed the world” through her strength, courage and never-give-up mentality.
“It is not just because of your singing, songwriting, acting — that’s the stuff that has lit up so many faces … but you are doing it now from a philanthropy perspective, simply by illustrating to the world you never give up,” he said according to The Australian.
“You never walk away from any challenge. You are the most optimistic person I have ever met.”
Speaking about the honour, Olivia is said to have thanked all Australians for supporting her throughout her life so far as she battled through several cancer diagnosis’.
“It’s huge for me,” she reportedly said. “I started getting nervous yesterday when I thought ‘wow this is really happening’.
It was my honour to present the Companion of the Order of Australia to Olivia Newton-John in Los Angeles on Tuesday._ Olivia is one of the world’s best selling artists of all time with a long musical and acting career. She was recognised by our nation not just because we are proud of her but because she changed the world in so many ways – including as a champion for women’s cancer care and as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. Olivia is one of the most optimistic people I have ever met. I was proud to share the special moment alongside her wonderful family and friends. Congratulations @therealonj and thank you for all you’ve done for Australia 🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺
Hockey later shared a photo of them embracing on Instagram, writing: “Olivia is one of the world’s best selling artists of all time with a long musical and acting career. She was recognised by our nation not just because we are proud of her but because she changed the world in so many ways – including as a champion for women’s cancer care and as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador.
“Olivia is one of the most optimistic people I have ever met. I was proud to share the special moment alongside her wonderful family and friends.”
Meanwhile, other Aussies to be named on the Queen’s Birthday Honours this week included actors Hugh Jackman and Sigrid Thornton, TV star and ABC Chair Ita Buttrose and former PM Kevin Rudd.
Jackman, 50, was honoured with a Companion of the Order like Olivia, for his contributions to the performing arts and the global community.
“As the youngest son of parents who made the decision to immigrate to Australia the year before I was born, this honour is especially emotional and humbling to me,” he said in a video message on Twitter.
“The countless teachers, mentors, institutions who have supported me along the way are immeasurable, and I will always be in my country’s debt.”
Elsewhere, journalists Jane Caro and Leigh Sales became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), as well as singer Guy Sebastian.