Honorary visitor energises the Brotherhood
On the morning of Tuesday May 15, staff and clients at the Brotherhood’s head office in Fitzroy were in a fashion flurry because a well-known style icon would soon be in their midst. 'She will definitely be wearing teal,' commented one employee with fervour. 'Not a chance' shouted another, 'she’s always in natural tones for these kinds of events. Do you think she’ll wear a hat?'
Ties were straightened, holes in stockings were mended and bets were placed on the colour of the outfit the glamorous visitor would be sporting. There was an electric buzz of excitement and anticipation in the air, and at 11.30am, in she walked...
The Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO (dressed in an elegant pastel-pink suit) was met by an excited crowd of members from the Brothehood’s Coolibah Centre, a day centre for disadvantaged older people, located downstairs from the Brotherhood’s main office space.
Ms Bryce glided through the Coolibah Centre taking in the activities and services on offer to the Centre’s members, such as gym facilities, games and entertainment, a billiards room and the dining area where members have their meals. She chatted to awestruck staff and members and even took the time to try her hand at a game of billiards under the guidance of renowned Coolibah member and billiard player extraordinaire, Darryl.
FACT: Ms Bryce is a mother of five, grandmother of nine with the 10th on the way, and will celebrate her 70th birthday in December.
Her Excellency was then ushered to Father Tuckers, a large function hall at the rear of the Brotherhood’s building (named after the Brotherhood’s founder Father Gerard Kennedy Tucker ) where she attended a Women’s Network function. The Brotherhood’s Women’s Network is an initiative developed to support disadvantaged women and girls .
Father Tuckers was packed with an 80-strong crowd, from Brotherhood staff to clients and Women’s Network members. Every person in the room was delighted to get the opportunity to meet Ms Bryce and share their personal stories and their connections to the Brotherhood with her. And she was keen to listen. Her mission for the afternoon was to speak to every person in the room – and she succeeded.
FACT: Since her appointment on September 8, 2008, Ms Bryce has undertaken 2700 public engagements (or ‘community engagements’ as she prefers to call them).
She chatted to educators from the Brotherhood’s Family Day Care program , workers from Saver Plus , staff from the aged care and employment sectors, and shared her excitement with coordinators from the HIPPY program about the recent government announcement to increase funding to expand the initiative.
The room erupted with laughter and delighted 'oohs and ahhs' when baby Zara, a regular at the Brotherhood’s Napier Street Child and Family Resource Centre, crawled towards the honorary guest and was lifted into her arms. The moving photo of the pair even made the pages of The Age newspaper the following Saturday.
As she addressed the room, Ms Bryce spoke eloquently of the genuine admiration she has for the work of the Brotherhood and the people it assists. The irony was that in a room full of people excited to be in her presence, she should say: 'being here with you energises me'.
When Ms Bryce and her entourage had departed, and the excitement at the Brotherhood had simmered down, everyone was in agreement that not only was the Governor-General extremely well-dressed, but she was also a lovely and personable woman who showed a genuine interest in the individuals that make up communities.