Dear Reader,

Welcome to my web portal.  I invite you to explore my life and interests online using the menu on the right. My hope is that you will find material that will engage us in conversation and reflection.

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Orange the World

Standing with my colleagues in our commitment to ending violence against women
We claim a masculinity that is rugged in its determination to live in non violent behaviour. 

We claim a masculinity that is powerful in its vulnerability. 

We claim a masculinity with our brothers who struggle with life;s challenges.

We claim a masculinity that is strengthened by intimacy and nurtured in affection.

We claim a masculinity that is adventurous.

#16days #orangetheworld #endviolenceagainstwomen



Local Legend 2015In November 2015 I was one of several people awarded for their services and presence in the West End Community of Brisbane. The awards acknowledge “Local Legends” across the spectrum of those who contribute to the life and culture of West End.

I was honoured with the inaugural Community Engagement Award. I am so grateful and humbled by those who nominated me for this award. I owe so much to the late Aunty Maureen Watson, who was my first mentor into the local community. You cannot be a local legend on your own, and I acknowledge the relationships and opportunities that have come my way to inspire and encourage my community engagement.

Legends happen when stories are shared and lives are bonded in community. Thanks to The West End Magazine and the great film crew from Griffith University Film School for their creative engagement that saw the video project come to air.

This post is a collection of interviews and responses I gave following the acknowledgement.

612 ABC  Report and interview

West End Magazine

Banner pic from West End Magazine

Tony Robertson describes West End as a “celebration of diversity” in a wonderful short film produced by a talented group of Griffith film students. The West End Magazine film producer Ann Megalla acted as consultant on the project.

Tony works with Micah Projects as part of social inclusion team, largely assisting local people who have mental health problems or disabilities. He works to bring people together without differentiation through social and community activities. Tony is an everyday hero, embodying the true spirit of West End.

Local Legends Awards

The 2015 Local Legends Awards were held on Saturday 17 October at Miss Bliss Café, West End.

The Community Engagement Award: a recommendation of the judges Tim Quinn, Margie Gamble and Peter Marinelli went to Tony Robertson for his tireless work with local residents and aboriginal people.

Paladar Fumior Salon's photo. Congratulations to one of our stalwart regulars who received an unexpected recognition of his contribution to the wider community in the LOCAL LEGENDS scheme.

Being the unique soul that Tony Robertson is, the organisers had to come up with a new category to recognise Tony’s efforts as a social worker with the homeless at his work with MICAH PROJECTS, and his community engagement as the Community Jester, and social documenter in his photographic exploits, not to mention the banana suit!

Congratulations again and many thanks Tony, who has so been a part of Paladar’s landscape for the past decade and most certainly the wider local community.
Keep up the good work. We cheer and applaud you.

Hiroaki Eba

Artist , Hiroaki Eba with Local Legend Trophy

The award came with a certificate and a  piece of West End Sculpture. Local florist and artist Hiroaki Eba designed the ceramic vase trophy to hold tiny flowers.
Artist’s Statement:

I made the 2015 Local Legend Trophy for West End. This year I made them by ceramic, wire and string. The wire and string represents the Brisbane River and is shaped as the bend where West End is situated. The base of the trophy is a ceramic vase and can be used for tiny flowers. I received a lot of compliments for these. Thank you.
Congratulations also to the recipients of the Local Legends Awards! I hope you can enjoy your award for a long time.

Hiroaki Eba -Art's photo.

George Gittoes, Sydney Peace Prize 2015

As I grow older and perhaps a little wiser I am more convinced that art will touch the heart and challenge the attitudes of people as much as politics and religion.

The winner of the 2015 Sydney Peace Prize, George Gittoes deserves to be among those we name as national treasures.His biography  is a litany of grace and power for social change.
In 2015 George Gittoes was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize

Some highlights of a remarkable life

1986: Travels to Nicaragua, Central America and visits the arts collective on Solentiname Islands, collaborating with Miriam Guevara, Olivia Silva and Ernesto Cardenal.

1992: Awarded Blake Prize for Religious Art for the painting Ancient Prayer, inspired by the death from motor neurone disease of his close friend and artistic collaborator Ronaldo Cameron.

1994: Awarded Blake Prize for Religious Art for the painting The Preacher, which came out of the Rwandan series of works.

1997: Travels to Northern Ireland. After contact with both Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Protestant paramilitaries, commences a series of works based on confrontations between the two groups.

Contributes to the group exhibition, Sarajevo, developed by Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney and touring nationally.
2002: Commissioned by the Visible Art Foundation
to create a painting for the Republic Apartment Tower in Melbourne to mark the anniversary
of the attacks on the World Trade Center. The commission is cancelled once the work is completed and the painting, War on Terra, is subsequently exhibited at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne on 11 September.
Explore his work, but more than that take it to heart and engage with it and watch what happens!!!!

Just Dates: November

Supporting Men’s Health in Movember

Queensland Community Alliance Reflection

The last week of October 2015 was spent at the the historic Woodlands estate just outside suburbia in Brisbane. Its history is a rich tableaux of family, religion and education on the land of the First Nations Peoples of Australia. It’s walls and grounds hold the stories of private families and public institutions.

I joined a group colleagues from the Queensland Community Alliance who came together to develop skills as social change activists with power brokers on the public stage. Our participants included representatives from Trade Unions, Churches and Community organisations such as mine, Micah Projects  Inc

The QCA works to establish a community organising alliance in south east Queensland to forge a better community. QCA aims to be an alliance of faith groups coming together with charities, unions, community organisations and ethnic associations to work together for the common good This alliance will be based around the personal relations we will build across organisations in our local area. We will identify and train people to become leaders in community organising, who will decide our priorities for action together, through a process of listening to stories of pressures that our members face and witness.

The  alliance draws on the community organising practice  of the United States, and is linked with and based upon the model of the Sydney Alliance. Also check out Citizens UK.

The 6 Day National Training is a program for people committed to understanding the craft of community organising – who want to play a key role in leading the activities of the Alliance inside their organisation and acting as a bridge between our member organisations.

The residential course builds a close community of leaders across participating civil society organisations that represent the diversity our communities in Sydney and Queensland. The 6 Day National Training is also open to those seeding new Alliances across Australia.

Leaders are equipped with the tools they need to be more strategic and effective and to build and strengthen their organisations in the process. The course focuses on power, organisations, relationships and leadership.

The core process of the program builds around our understanding of power and relationships. The prepatory work included writing a personal biography and some pretty in depth analysis of a  slab of good old fashioned Greek tragedy, the Melian DialogueOther resources for this training include the work  of Michael Gecan.

The origins of this work in the Alliance comes from the Industrial Areas Foundation

Founded in 1940, the Industrial Areas Foundation is the largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations in the USA.

The IAF partners with religious congregations and civic organizations at the local level to build broad-based organizing projects, which create new capacity in a community for leadership development, citizen-led action and relationships across the lines that often divide our communities.

The IAF created the modern model of faith- and broad-based organizing and is widely recognized as having the strongest track record in the the USA for citizen leadership development and for helping congregations and other civic organizations act on their missions to achieve lasting change in the world.

Tools that we explored for our work in social change

1. Relational Conversations are conversations that have intentional direction to build relationships for action in the public domain. There is a framework in these conversations that builds on sharing common commitment to action for social change and a civil community. The relational conversation develops a skill in deep listening.

2 Public actions are  opportunities to invite people into a new model of leadership and political engagement. Some public actions are  free flowing such as rallies. Others have a structure to achieve a reaction from decision makers with whom we engage. This process comes from a relational culture of organising.

3 Listening: facilitated group listening in our context is usually described as “Table Talk” This allows a diversity of stories to be heard so that a  common thread can be teased out for action.

So, what did I take away from six intensive days of engagement with this process?  The main learning comes from the Alinsky model of the distinction between the private and the public sphere. Click here for a good critique of this model.As this is the model adopted by members of the Alliance here in Queensland we  now face the challenge of adapting it to our local situation as a tool of social change and effective political engagement.

I found the program somewhat challenging from a cultural perspective. It has a very “American” cheer leader feel to it  i have described  it as a cross between going to an Amway meeting and  watching TV evangelists.The public events of the alliance are proscribed and scripted to an extent previously unknown in the Australian political theatre. There is a lot of work needed to give the Alliance a home grown feel Downunder.

Living with a group of people even for such a short time can build relationships that we want to nurture and continue.This is the strength of the Alliance which creates a new space for collaboration and political outcomes

QCA 2015 National Training Participants

Queensland Community Alliance National 6 Day Training Marburg Qld

I Support Queensland Parliament Civil Partnership Legislation

The Relationships (Civil Partnerships) and Other Acts Amendment Bill 2015 proposed by the Queensland Parliament seeks to reinstate legislative provisions removed in 2012 in respect of legally recognised partnerships between two adults, to:allow a state-sanctioned ceremony prior to registration of a civil partnership

  • allow such a relationship to be registered as a ‘civil partnership’, rather than a ‘registered relationship’. 
  • The Bill would also support the transition to a digitised births, deaths and marriages registration service, establishing electronic lodgement as the means of lodgement for births and deaths.  It would recognise the validity of digitised copies of source documents relating to registrations of life events, the same legal status as the original paper versions.

This legislation first step on the journey of honouring the human dignity and commitment of same sex couples. It is also a basic human right that protects the legal status of the relationship. Written submissions addressing the Bill’s proposals as outlined above are now invited, and will be accepted until 4.00 pm on Monday, 19 October 2015.A guide to making submissions is available here.

I find it bizarre that so many of my fellow Catholics get upset by this. The Church blesses all sorts of inanimate objects including  houses, cars, footballs,  statues and buildings. It has blessings for all sorts of people from students to pilgrims but won’t even offer a blessing ritual to same sex couples.

The official book of blessings however does include a Blessing of Organisations Concerned With Public Needs so perhaps Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group  could qualify for that. 

Just Dates October

Breast Cancer Awareness MonthEat Local Feed Global

1 International Day for Older Persons

4-10 World Space Week