Geoffrey Rush, Jacki Weaver, Brenton Broadstock and Patrick Thomas head 2014’s honours for the arts.

Actors Geoffrey Rush and Jacki Weaver, composer Brenton Broadstock and conductor Patrick Thomas were among the most prominent arts names on the 2014 Australia Day honours list announced by the Governor-General yesterday.

Rush was one of six men made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), the highest award possible, being recognised as a role model and mentor for aspiring artists, and as a supporter for, and promoter of, the Australian arts industry. The late songwriter and musician Dr Yunupingu was accorded the same honour for his achievements in the advancement of education and social justice for Indigenous people, and as an advocate for cultural exchange and understanding.

The Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) award went to a number of artists including actor Jacki Weaver, honoured not just for her acting talent but for her support of social welfare organisations, and musical theatre legend Nancye Hayes.

Brenton Broadstock was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his work as both a composer as well as being a noted educator and mentor to young musicians. Veteran musical director Patrick Thomas was likewise recognised for significant service to music, particularly as a conductor and broadcaster.

Rush and Yunupingu were among the six men getting the AC. Only one woman, Sally Gordon Thomas, was recognised with only 31% of the winners across all categories being female, drawing fierce criticism from some quarters.