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THE BOY FROM GEELONG BECOMES A LEGEND IN BRISBANE

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!!!!

For Those Who Come Across the Seas

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.

The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council distributes a Ten Steps leaflet that will include ways in which we can work to promote understanding and help such people in practical ways.

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.

 

Australian Catholics For Equality

I have recently accepted an invitation to join the advisory board of Australian Catholics for Equality.

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.

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Tony Robertson, Advisory Board Member
Tony is a Brisbane based social worker, who also uses his skills as a photographer to promote social change and equity in the community. He spent six years with the Capuchin Friars as a young adult and has been involved in various public ministries of the Church as a speaker, educator and retreat leader. Tony is an occasional commentator on LGBTI issues for the ABC and has extensive media experience writing press releases and responding to interview requests. He is currently the Spiritual Life facilitator for the L’Arche community in Brisbane. Tony is a member of the Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group and supports Gar’ban’djee’lum Network an independent social network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, sistergirls and brotherboys (GLBTSB) in and around Brisbane.

Holding The Man

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.

Throughout the story the Catholic Church as institution and cultural guide struggles with the rich dynamic of human intimacy and young love.Although Tim Kroenet gives the Jesuits a gold star for being “relatively progressive and inclusive” the shine is tarnished at John’s funeral the priest who knows that Tim regards John as his husband dismisses their relationship as mere friendship.
Catholic schoolboy life in the 60s and 70s was cruel and unwelcoming for those of us attracted to our peers. I sat for my HSC  in 1970 and for the six years of my life at St Joseph’s College Geelong I had spent much of my break time in the school day with the same group of mates. Of that group three of us were gay but we had neither the language nor community to support each other’s journey into sexuality. We went different ways into life’s joys,hopes, grief and anguish.


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.
I am proud that my old school is now a participating member of the Safe School Coalition. I have life membership of the Old Collegians and have been invited back as a Gay man to tell my story of a different era and to encourage inclusion and welcome as school and footy oval values.
Come and see this film when it is in your neighbourhood and in these localities.. The acting is passionate, the story is ours. ‪#‎HTMMovie‬
Need a guide to help you unpack the story?  Check out this set of Teacher’s Notes