The lunch took place on Sunday 23 August 2015 and we were delighted to return to Hillstone St. Lucia where it was wonderful to see time had not stood still, many improvements continue to be made there.
We were lucky enough to have the weather clear for a beautiful afternoon – perfect for guests to enjoy welcome drinks and canapés on the terrace. We were delighted to see so many of our Brisbane regulars and also some new faces.
MC for the day was the larger than life Ben Dobbin who kept proceedings on track throughout the afternoon.
Australian Ireland Fund Chairman, John O’Neill AO, officially welcomed guests, many from Brisbane’s top corporate institutions. Special guests on the day included Ambassador of Ireland to Australia H.E. Noel White, Dick McGruther and his wife, Australian Ireland Fund Directors Dr Tom Moore, Professor Iain Watson Peter Ryan, Ted Johnson, as well as former Board Member Sallyanne Atkinson AO and Executive Director Teresa Keating. The Australian Ireland Fund’s Young Leaders were also represented by Brian Cooke, Sinead Hourigan, Jude Bolger and Melissa Fisher from Sydney.
The Chairman outlined the events that had taken place over the previous 12 months, including hosting former President of Ireland Mary McAleese to support Modern Irish Studies at UNSW, a sporting night in Melbourne with Panellists, Joe Schmidt, Coach of the winning Six Nations Irish Team, Footballer, Damien Leith and the Chairman himself as former CEO of the ARU, a visit from the Provost of Trinity College and many amazing Young Leader events in both Sydney and Melbourne. The Chairman also indicated how very pleased he was that the Young Leaders had launched in Brisbane just last week before our annual Brisbane Lunch. John also took the opportunity to thank Brian Cooke of PWC for hosting the launch reception for Young Leaders.
The Chairman was delighted to tell guests, that with their help, we had made grants in June 2014 and 2015 totalling $585,000 and the funds had been allocated to projects of integrated education in Northern Ireland, projects in the Republic of Ireland and indigenous scholarships in Australia, locally at Marist College Ashgrove and St. Peter’s Lutheran College. The Board also provided a grant to Soar, an Irish charity inspired by the Reach Foundation in Melbourne that was founded by Jim Stynes, a Dubliner and Brownlow medal recipient.
Soar is an outreach movement built on an early intervention model, with the purpose of inspiring young people aged 12-19 to have the self-belief to fulfil their highest potential, take ownership of their lives and dare to dream.
The other projects to benefit from the work of the Australian Ireland Fund are; Solas (which means light) who provide an after school club in Basin Lane flats Dublin 8, having grown from serving 7 girls in 2007 to running 7 programmes helping over 500 young people in the community today. The support of the AIF will allow them to scale up with the hope of reaching 1000 young people by the end of 2017. Suas Educational Development who will provide direct literacy support to 1,475 children aged 8-14 from disadvantaged communities in Westmeath and Irish Studies at The University of New South Wales.
The Chairman thanked major sponsors in particular; Emirates represented by Leonie Brennan, Regional Manager for Queensland, Australian Radio Network and Ciaran Davis, Charles Curran AC and Capital Investment Group, The Brisbane Lions and Dr. Sarah Kelly, and Paul O’Brien.
The Chairman thanked all guests for their support today, he also indicated there is much work to be done and encouraged those present to stay with us and help us to spread the word about our work.
Ambassador Noel White then took to the stage and spoke of the important role played by the global Irish community, the diaspora, in staying engaged with Ireland and supporting it over the years. He emphasised the importance the Government attaches to the diaspora and he outlined policies being developed to assist and remain connected with Irish communities abroad.
The Ireland Funds, he added, have been a consistent contributor towards a lasting peace and reconciliation throughout the island of Ireland reflecting and maintaining a tradition of support that has been readily forthcoming from Ireland’s diaspora. He thanked The Australian Ireland Fund for the part it has played and continues to play as part of the wider family of Ireland Funds.
Guests were extremely privileged to then hear from John Buchanan, the Australian cricket team Coach from 1999 to 2007, John shared his thoughts and experiences on the topics of WAGS, Michael Clarke and the importance of team culture. It was a rare and insightful view into the world of professional sports one that had everyone captivated.
Alan Boyle an Irish Artist who now calls Australia home was the afternoon’s entertainment. Alan is a Brisbane-based emerging artist, a powerful live performer and a joy to listen to who has supported great Australian acts like Diesel, Wendy Matthews, Ian Moss and Daryl Braithwaite.
The Live auction was conducted by Bruce Smith from Ray White Real Estate, who expertly whipped the crowd into a great state of excitement, thanks to all our donors and of course our guests who bid on those wonderful items..
Thank you to our table captains and sponsors, quite simply our work would not be possible without your help.