Careering into the Future

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A good life is celebrated with rituals that mark significant milestones. Along with birthdays and commitments a rite of passage that many of us know is the ending of a career.

On April 6th  friends and people with whom I have journeyed gathered to celebrate my leaving Micah Projects after more than 11 years of advocacy and solidarity with Forgotten Australians, people who experience social,isolation as well as those who struggle to find a place in our culture and community.

The invitation to celebrations that went out through various networks included this amazing image that says much about my work and ethic. A few years ago I created “ Bananaman”, a promotional character for our fledgling social enterprise in South Brisbane. That enterprise now includes Hope Street Café.

The celebrations of farewell were led by people I have supported,  work colleagues, and members of the local West End Community.  As well as the obligatory speeches the ritual included a time of memories, cards and signing of the Banana suit. I am grateful to those who spoke, took pics and gathered for this rite of passage in  my 65th year.

 

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Nothing is quite as humbling as listening to other people speak of their memories of you. Work in the community sector can be demanding and  challenging as much as rewarding.  It is a diverse workforce that brings together people who can organise, strategize, plan, create, report, write grants, lobby,  budget, debrief, unpack, defuse, drive, intervene, document, and make a decent coffee.

The comments in memories and written on cards and the banana suit reminded me that I bring  a sense of  joy and  humour to  my work and life.  It probably isn’t one of the seven habits of highly effective people. It has been my strength and takes me back to a childhood memory. I was a at a footy match with a school friend when I over heard one of the parents say: “that Tony Robertson is a cheeky lad but you can’t help liking him”.

Bananaman has made  his curtain call.  The work of social change and advocacy includes wild humour, a good dose of eccentricity and a costume from eBay. The costume may be retired but the eccentricity and wild humour will continue in my work as a Community Jester.

 

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.

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.

The Kurilpa Album October 2014

 

West End Festival 2014

West End Festival 2014

With friends at Sanity Fair 2014

With friends at Sanity Fair 2014

Brisbane has been my home now for 22 years. It has been my home city for the longest continual period in my life. And in that time West End and South Brisbane on the Kurilpa Peninsula have been my home, workplace and preferred social venues.

My camera travels with me capturing friends, neighbours and life among the people who make up my community.

Today was something of an extraordinary opportunity to spend time at Sanity Fair 2014 Brisbane Open House and West End Festival.

I am aware of the power of image and the duty of care I have as a photographer in recording people and their lives. I am also humbled by those who request as well as those who pose for my images or allow me to capture them.

Click here to see  a wonderful album of the Kurilpa Community engaging and celebrating. Please add comments, tag and join the storytelling