Christine delighted secret is out

Sale's Christine Morris was awarded an OAM as part of the Australia Day honours. She is pictured left with Liberal Member for Eastern Victoria Cathrine Burnett-Wake on Australia Day. Photo: Stefan Bradley

Stefan Bradley

Four months ago, Christine Morris noticed an interesting email had popped up in her inbox.

“Dear Ms Morris,” it began.

“I am delighted to be writing to you on behalf of the Governor-General to inform you that you are being considered for the award of the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia (General Division) within the Australia honours system.”

The email requested Ms Morris to accept or decline the award by clicking a link.

Ms Morris thought the email was spam.

“I was too scared to click the link,” Ms Morris told the Gippsland Times.

“But when I saw the citation was ‘for service to the community, particularly through the church’, I started to believe this was actually real.

“When I clicked the button, I remember being scared my computer might blow up, then accepting it probably was for real.”

For four months, Ms Morris couldn’t say anything about her new award, not even to her mother in the next room.

“I had to silently be excited,” Ms Morris said.

Four months later on Australia Day, Christine Morris OAM feels very relieved to have it all out in the open.

“I’ve been getting flowers, messages on social media, phone calls, feeling very loved and appreciated,” she said.

“Now I can finally put OAM after my name, but I feel the burden of responsibility to not bring the order into disrepute.”

Ms Morris has a long history with Gippsland and the Wellington Shire, growing up in Combienbar and eventually moving to Sale in 1989.

While Ms Morris’ award in particular acknowledges her involvement with church, there’s many examples of her service to the community.

From delivering leftover bread from bakeries to members of the community, working as a teacher, running community outreach at Summer in Seaspray, or running the administration of St Paul’s Cathedral, Ms Morris is always busy.

Ms Morris says the biggest challenge for the community is the so-called “non-lockdown”.

“In 2022, it’s about Omicron, where people are allowed to go out and do things, but they don’t want to go out and do those things,” Ms Morris said.

“How do we as a church run service for those who still want to go, but don’t want to catch COVID?

“Live streaming and social media has been one part of that.”

Ms Morris hopes that others in the community can receive the same appreciation she’s received.

“I am one person that’s recognisable, but there are thousands out there who are the unrecognised,” she said.

“I’d like to thank all the volunteers and frontline workers, as they are the real heroes of the last two years, often to their own health and family’s detriment.”

Ms Morris has described the new outpouring of love as akin to a “living eulogy”.

“It’s like when you’re at a funeral and they say all the nice things about the person who has passed and the life they’ve lived, except I’m alive,” Ms Morris said.

“You wish that people at the funeral said those things when that person was still here.

“Which is why I hope everyone reading this considers ringing someone, or sending a card, flower or text message.

“Tell at least one person you appreciate them.”