Victorian Skeptics treasurer awarded OAM

Roy Arnott, long-standing treasurer for the Victorian Skeptics, was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the recent Queen’s birthday honours list.

He received the honour for his service to the preservation of military history and to veterans.

Roy enlisted in the CMF (later the Australian Army Reserve) in 1959, retiring as a Warrant Officer Class 2 in 1996. His civilian career was in the Australian Public Service, mainly in Defence-related departments. In the latter years Roy transferred from Defence and his last posting was a six year term with the Australian National Audit Office.

In the military, he had a tussle with registering his religious status, which was “atheist”. As he describes in an article “An atheist in the army” on the Vic Skeptics website: “It started on Day 1. When I enlisted back in 1959, we got to the question on the form about religion. I said that I did not have any. The Attestation Officer said, ‘You have to be something, I will put down Church of England.’

“Later, when I knew a bit more about things than the average recruit, I had my file corrected to read ‘No Religion’.

“The Army personnel system does not have a classification of ‘Atheist’. I think the descriptor ‘No Religion’ is fair enough. We do not need to coin a word for other non-believers – in, for example, fairies, ghosts, or Easter Bunnies.”

His post-retirement military services include:
• 4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Regiment, Australian Army: Honorary Curator, Unit History Room, Simpson Barracks, since 2006; Assistant Curator 1999-2006; and Volunteer since 1993.
• Regimental Trustee, since 2002.
• 4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse Regiment Association: Honorary Treasurer since 2000, Honorary Auditor, 1993-2000.
• Royal Australian Armoured Corps Association: Honorary Auditor, Victorian Branch, since 2005.

In typically modest fashion, Roy hadn’t told anyone about his award, so we thank Vic Skeptics secretary Ken Greatorex for revealing military secrets.

Congratulations Roy. In the tally of Skeptics recognised for their efforts for the community, he joins Dick Smith, who was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in the same honours list.