Former IMB Bank chief executive Wayne Morris has been happily retired for a number of years but remains so busy his wife still has to check his availability for dinner and family holidays.
Born and bred in the Illawarra, community has always and continues to be at the heart of Wayne’s commitments.
That commitment – since he started as a teller at IMB Bank in the late 1970s – has earned him an OAM for service to the community in this year’s Australia Day honours list, along with a select group of other Illawarra residents.
For (Peter) Wayne Morris, he says if he was ever going to be “recognised in some way”, an Australia Day honour would be the ultimate.
“I felt honoured, I felt grateful,” he says when asked what his thoughts were when he was told about the award.
He’s direct when asked for his views on Australia Day.
“I will get political about it by saying we should celebrate Australia Day. We should celebrate the good things about this country, things we can work together on,” he says.
“I feel that it’s wrong, that someone who wants to celebrate something that we believe in, that we’ve been maligned by the media, especially social media.
“It’s doing stuff together; it’s family; our church has a get-together on a dairy farm. We’ll just sit and have a chat and say isn’t it good that we can do these things, that we have the freedom – let’s celebrate the freedom we’ve got and the future we can have together.”
Working from his Avondale “office” – a converted pool cabana – Wayne currently chairs four boards and is a member of at least five others, including the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Destination Wollongong, Wollongong Conservatorium of Music and a number of church organisations.
He was instrumental, along with Mat Campbell, in saving the Illawarra Hawks basketball club after its financial troubles in 2009 and went on to become CEO for two years. Although he doesn’t get to as many games as he would like, he still records and watches every game “at least five times while shouting at the TV”.
He says he plans to wind back his commitments “over the next five to 10 years”, but at 66, he is enjoying life, even appreciating the task of running the ride-on lawn mower over his large property.
Wayne has four children and three grandchildren and has been married for more than 45 years to Narelle.
“I’m blessed to have this office so I can be out here and she can be doing whatever she wants to do and we’re not tripping over each other, especially during the day,” he says. “She’s very, very supportive and just wants to know if I’m at a meeting tonight and will I need dinner.”
Illawarra Australia Day honours list
Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the General Division
Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna, Albion Park
For significant service to civil engineering, particularly through infrastructure development, ground improvement and transportation geotechnics.
Beverley Kerr, Corrimal
For significant service to the community through social welfare programs. Bev has a long association with the NSW St Vincent de Paul Society and is the organisation’s vice-president. Last year she was declared a Dame of the Order of St Gregory the Great, an order of papal knights. She was conferred the honour at Wollongong’s St Francis Xavier Cathedral. The accolade was bestowed in recognition of Bev’s lifelong dedication to assisting people experiencing homelessness, poverty, and disadvantage.
Sarah Neill, Wollongong
For significant service to youth, and to the community. Sarah has been a member of the Girl Guides since 1995 and has held many roles with Girl Guides NSW, ACT and NT, as well as Girl Guides Australia, where she is National Coordinator Adult. Sarah has been a volunteer and guide with the Australian Motorlife Museum at Kembla Grange since 2008 and also served as the business manager.
Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division
Valda Brunker, Minnamurra
For service to netball, and to the community. Valda was a founding member of Kiama Netball Association in 1986 and has served as a player, coach, umpire, as well as president from 1986-2015. The Val Brunker Netball Centre at Kiama was named in her honour in 1999. As well as being a life member of the association, Val is also a life member of Kiama and Shellharbour District Tennis Association, Minnamurra Tennis Club and Shellharbour Tennis Association.
Stephen Hewson, Bulli
For service to rugby league. Stephen is a development officer with the Western Sydney Academy of Sport, and has a long association with rugby league, back to his playing days in the 1970s. He was coach of the Wheelchair Rugby League Australia team in 2013 and 2017, and refereed in the 2021 Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup.
Lorraine Mairinger, Kangaroo Valley
For service to the community through a range of organisations. Lorraine is a former chairman and director, as well as life member, of Lions Club International Foundation, Lions Fund Australia. She is a former president of Kangaroo Valley Lions Club, a former pool manager at Kangaroo Valley Swimming Pool, and is a life member of the Kangaroo Valley Agricultural and Horticultural Show Society and the local NSW Rural Fire Service Brigade. Her husband Franz, who died in 2014, was also awarded an OAM for his community service in 2003.
Warwick Shanks, Jamberoo
For service to business, and to the community through a range of organisations. Warwick is well known in the Illawarra business community, particularly through his career with KPMG, which he joined in 2001. Warwick has been the auditor of judges for Illawarra Business Chamber’s annual business awards since 2005 and is a deputy chancellor at the University of Wollongong. Away from business, he is chairman of the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre and Merrigong Theatre Company, and has volunteered with the i98FM Illawarra Convoy and St Vincent de Paul Society.
David Stanton, Mt Pleasant
For service to the community of Illawarra. David was a foundation member of the Illawarra Rhododendron Gardens in 1969. He has continued to volunteer at the Mt Pleasant Gardens, and has served as its president and park manager. His father Don Stanton was instrumental in starting the gardens.
Nuala Williams, West Wollongong
For service to youth through choral music. Nuala has been actively involved with Gondwana Choirs since 1993 in a variety of roles. She was chorister support coordinator at the National Choral School from 2016-2020, and volunteer head supervisor from 1997-2015.
Public Service Medal (PSM)
Nicholas Weller, Figtree
For outstanding public service to the NSW Police Force, in particular, the delivery of COVID-19 work, health and safety policies. Nicholas worked with specialist areas within the NSW Police Force to develop COVID safe procedures for workers required to conduct high risk activities, including random breath testing and domestic or international travel for investigation, prisoner extradition and other work-related purposes throughout the pandemic. Other projects he assisted with included the organisational rollout of Service NSW QR codes at most policing facilities, distribution of COVID-19 work, health and safety information packs, and deployment of checkpoint information relating to NSW and Victorian border closures.