In 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some highlights of a remarkable life
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.
Our anthem is sung from small school assemblies to footy finals. Most know the first verse and are even surprised to discover the second verse with its lines that challenge Government refugee policy of recent times:
For those who come across the seas
We’ve boundless plans to share
These lines will now be given life and fire as the title of this year’s Social Justice statement from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council The statement summary in video format may not have the the grandeur of a full choir and orchestral setting.of the anthem, however it presents lyrics that touch our hearts.
It is a subtle presentation of the facts about refugees and asylum seekers in our world and local community.It is also a challenge and an invitation to action.
We all have a role to play
What can we do as individuals and a community to help our brothers and sisters and work for a conversion in our nation? The task is not easy, but there are many things that we can do.
First, we can make sure that Australians understand the issues better. Quiet conversation and
example are powerful tools for conversion.
We can also support the organisations that work to help asylum seekers: organisations like the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Catholic Social Services, Jesuit Refugee Services, Asylum Seekercentres and many others.
We can work within our parishes to ensure that they are welcoming places. Creating social events, organising or joining support networks, introducing refugees and hearing their stories: all these are ways in which we can recognise the humanity of those who have come in need of protection.
Politicians need to know that we feel passionately about this issue, and not just at the ballot box, when we cast our vote. Writing to local members and ministers does have an effect, and can give encouragement to those in Parliament who also seek a better way.
The Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office is a valuable source of advocacy and information. The Office provides education resources for schools and materials for the annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees – the last Sunday in August.
Many dioceses have very active Justice and Peace offices that can make suggestions about practical steps you can take or organisations you can support.
At the Brisbane launch we sang All are Welcome, a song that gains new meaning in the light of this statement.
This new role provides guidance to the Council of Moderators on issues affecting LGBTIQ Catholic persons, their family, friends and allies. The Advisory Board provides practical and strategic advice to support the total work of the organising community, improving the lives of LGBTIQ Catholics, their families, friends and allies to promote a just and inclusive church and society.
I look forward to the challenge and the opportunities of this new and exciting project.
Holding the Man came a generation after my Catholic schoolboy days but the cultural paradigm was familiar. This is a powerful screen production of one of the great Aussie love stories. I was honoured to attend the Brisbane preview and fundraising event for Queensland AIDS Council.
I have my own connections to this love story. At one time I had a job interview at Xavier College and one of the members of the panel was disturbed that I wore odd socks.I wasn’t offered the position.
As part of the global movement for the abolition of the death penalty I invite you to join me in vigil for these people.
You let your rain fall on the just and the unjust.
Expand and deepen our hearts
so that we may love as You love,
even those among us
who have caused the greatest pain by taking life.
as we fill up death rows and kill the killers
in the name of justice, in the name of peace.
you suffered execution at the hands of the state
but you did not let hatred overcome you.
Help us to reach out to victims of violence
so that our enduing love may help them heal.
You strengthen us in the struggle for justice.
Help us to work tirelessly
for the abolition of state-sanctioned death
and to renew our society in its very heart
so that violence will be no more. Amen.