Old Aquinians awarded in Aus Day Honours

Congratulations to four Old Aquinians who were recognised in this year’s Australia Day Honours.

Victor Paino (’55), Geoff Churack (’55) and Michael Gurry (’64) were awarded membership in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) and Marc Ablong (’84) received a Public Service Medal (Federal).

The Old Aquinians were awarded for significant contributions to their respective communities and the business sector.

Mr Paino was recognised for his service to the seafood retailing industry, to ship supply services and to the community through his support of charitable groups.

He was chair of the Australian Ship Suppliers and Services Association from 1993 to 2000 and director of Sealanes for many years. Mr Paino was also founding director of the Fremantle Hospital Medical Research Foundation Board and is currently director of Fremantle Hospital. He was an inaugural inductee into the Fremantle Business Hall of Fame in 2002.


Mr Paino has spent many years supporting Rotary of Fremantle. He was a member from 1983-2000 and has worked as the organisation’s international service director. He became an honorary member in 2000.

Geoff Churack was awarded an honour in recognition of his service to the community through philanthropic support of medical research, education and sporting groups as well as his work in the retail automotive sector.

Mr Churack was a philanthropic contributor to the establishment of the University of Notre Dame’s Churack Chair of Chronic Pain Education and Research in 2013. He is an ongoing benefactor of Aquinas College and financial supporter, former player and life member of the South Perth Cricket Club.


His commitment to sport is also evident through his life membership of Incogniti Cricket Club – England and WA, along with his foundation membership of Corinthian Park Tennis Club (since 1977).

Mr Churack was awarded the Order of the Knights of the Southern Cross (WA), was chairman of Knicross Enterprises in 2001-06 and has been director since 1983.

His career in the automotive industry has included former ownership and management of several car dealerships for GM Holden, BMW and Toyota from 1965-2015.

michael gurry

Michael Gurry was recognised for his service to charitable organisations through fundraising and cooperative networking roles and to social welfare programs in Cambodia.

Mr Gurry has chaired many charitable organisations throughout his career, including; Tabitha Australia (inaugural chair) since 2015, Foundation Housing 2009-17 and United Way 1999-2007. He was the co-founder of The Helping Foundation and has been executive director since 2010.

Mr Gurry has been a member of Rotary Club of Perth for the past 28 years and was a finalist in the Senior Australian of the Year WA award in 2017.

In the corporate world, his career at HBF has included roles as group general manager (1995-99), managing director (1999-2007) and councillor (since 2009).

Alongside this, Mr Gurry has been a non-executive director of Joyce Corporation and Bedshed Franchising Pty Ltd since 2008. He was chair of the Forest Products Commission from 2008-12, vice president of the Asian Association of Management Organisations 1997-99 and fulfilled many roles with the Australian Institute of Management including; national president, WA president, board member and fellow.

Marc Ablong

Marc Ablong was awarded a Public Service Medal for his outstanding public service through the advancement of Australia’s defence capability.

Mr Ablong has been instrumental in the development of the Department of Defence’s Strategic Policy since the mid-2000s. He assisted in the Review of Defence Accountability Framework from 2009-10 which was the first comprehensive review to examine personal and institutional accountability in Defence.

Mr Ablong developed the Simplified Defence Business Model and Enterprise Risk Management Framework as part of the strategic reform agenda focus on governance arrangements with Defence.

He was subsequently tasked with leading the multidisciplinary team which developed the 2016 Defence White Paper. This was one of the most comprehensive exercises to ever be undertaken in Australian Defence planning.