The phrase "humbling experience" makes Tim Minchin squirm but he couldn't find another way to describe how it feels being recognised for his work.
Minchin has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the performing arts, and to the community.
With a resume ranging from solo-musical comedy cabaret to television show writer, the 44-year-old recently returned to Aussie shores after nearly a decade living in the UK and US.
He earned critical acclaim as the composer and lyricist for the award-winning musical Matilda, adapted from Roald Dahl's beloved children's novel.
The multihyphenate last year added TV script writer to his repertoire with the cult comedy-drama Upright, about two misfits who travel across Australia to pick up a piano.
Like Minchin, with his signature look of wild hair and excessive eyeliner, the characters wear their eccentricity on the outside.
He got a sneak peek at the names of other recipients prior to the ceremony.
On the list were actors Rachel Griffiths, Hugo Weaving and country rocker Keith Urban.
"I found it a genuinely - though the word makes me squirm - humbling experience," Minchin said.
But it was the people he didn't recognise, the quiet achievers, who humbled him most.
"People from different backgrounds working in different fields being acknowledged for doing extraordinary things. It's truly an honour to be amongst them," Minchin said.
He wants to hear more stories from Australians with different points of view who can inject some colour into the stale and "depressingly bubble-based" discussions about the nation's future.
"At the risk of sounding like a total wanker, I believe a nation is defined by the stories its people tell about themselves," he said.
Minchin has publicly advocated for changing the date of Australia Day and took a dig at the awards being presented on the controversial public holiday.
As ambassador for Children and the Arts and patron for the West Australian Youth Theatre, he helps the next generation of storytellers pursue a career in the arts.
Storytellers of a different kind were also honoured on Australia Day, with Sydney investigative journalist Kate McClymont, news reader Peter Overton and men's advocate Bettina Arndt among those recognised from the media industry.
Australian Associated Press