Redlands Coast’s most influential people in community service: Power 30 list
Some have played an integral role in business or development, while others have built the future through the education of the city’s children.
The rich cultural heritage of the Quandamooka people continues to be embraced and acknowledged across the Coast, thanks to the tireless work and dedication of many elders who generously share their knowledge.
Scientists and environmentalists have also played a role, keeping watch over the koala population, the shore birds, bushland vegetation, coastline, Moreton Bay and its islands.
Built by dedicated local people, the city is rich in art and culture, with its own performing arts centre, art galleries, winery and entertainment venues at the many pubs and clubs.
At the sports grounds, it’s not just about the players on the fields but, importantly, those behind the scenes – selling meat tray raffle tickets, running the sausage sizzles and coaching the swimmers, the tennis players, hockey teams and footballers, all the while building self-esteem among young people, promoting fitness and giving little kids big dreams for the future.
So as Quest Community News announces our arrival on the Redlands Coast, we think it’s a good opportunity to say thanks to some of the people who have helped shaped the city.
Our Redlands Coast Power 30 list launches today, with perhaps some of the most generous contributors of all – those who work in community service.
Mr Seccombe is a man who knows Redlands Coast. As Mayor of the city from 2001 to 2008, he served as patron of more than 40 community groups.
Today his support continues in his role as chairman of the Redland Foundation. This charitable organisation runs a local grants program, administers donor contributions, holds fundraising events and manages a disaster relief fund.
When Redlands Community News chatted to Mr Seccombe recently, he was humble about the organisation he created, choosing instead to praise the foundation’s board members and local community groups such as Rotary.
But it took Mr Seccombe almost two years to launch the foundation, from the end of his mayoralty in 2008, putting state and federal government approvals in place to operate as a charity.
Now the foundation has $1.5 million in the bank, a disaster relief fund of $120,000 and recently launched a new program to help young entrepreneurs establish on Redlands Coast.
“We’ve just got to make Redlands a better place,” Mr Seccombe said.
“We raise money in the Redlands for the Redlands, and that’s what we are about.
“The Redland Foundation – I think the whole committee has got to be proud, because it’s a great thing. It’s apolitical, raises money for the Redlands, tries to pull community groups together and it does a fantastic job.”
Named 2019 Redlands Australia Day Senior Citizen of the Year, Rita Morris was a founder of disability support services provider, Myhorizon.
The organisation, which was launched by a group of Redlands parents in 1981, opened it’s first activity therapy centre in Capalaba just two years later.
During the next two decades, the organisation grew, adding lifestyle support services, employment and training opportunities plus respite care.
By 1998, a purpose-built facility had been constructed at Alexandra Hills and the organisation had continued to grow, offering more work options for people with disabilities.
Myhorizon now has more than 200 staff and helps thousands of people every year through centres at Capalaba, Cleveland, Alexandra Hills, North Stradbroke Island, Wynnum, Springwood, Ormeau, Ashmore, Stones Corner and Upper Mount Gravatt.
With support from Redland City Council and the Ian McDougall Trust, Myhorizon opened a new community education centre at Capalaba in 2017.
Last year, refurbishments at the former Wynnum Manly Leagues Bowls Club turned that property into another lifestyle centre.
During the 30 years it has taken to build the organisation, Ms Morris has continued her support, generating thousands of dollars in donations from a craft cart.
Last week she presented another cheque for $1500 to help children with development delays and disabilities.
On the Myhorizon web site, early intervention practice manager Katie Marsden said the group was grateful for the craft cart and its regular supporters, while a humble Ms Morris thanked the people who had helped her with the stall.
“Fundraising is a community effort which I couldn’t do without the generous craft donations,” she said.
Rita’s Craft Cart is at Myhorizon, Runnymede Rd, Capalaba, Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 2pm.
At the start of her campaign, back in 2012, Maryann Talia Pau had what seemed to be a lofty goal – create One Million Stars to End Violence.
Most people thought she would never make it.
But, with the help of schools, community groups and weavers in 15 countries, Ms Talia Pau not only collected one million, but the project attracted a final count of 2.4 million stars.
From Nigeria and Kenya to Fiji, Tonga, Malaysia and Samoa, the eight-pointed stars continued to arrive.
As the project grew, it attracted the attention of the State Government and the Museum of Brisbane – and so the campaign became a star attraction at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
It was also noticed by royalty, with the Duchess of Cornwell inspecting the final installation when it was on display at King George Square during the Games.
Ms Talia Pau used the project to highlight how much of an effort it would take to create peace, while equally demonstrating how a small contribution from a large number of people can have a major lasting effect.
Unexpected flow-on effects from the idea included reports of reduced isolation and an improved sense of community for the weavers who were involved.
At this year’s Redland City Council Australia Day Awards, Mayor Karen Williams congratulated Ms Talia Pau on her work and announced her place as the Citizen of the Year Award recipient for 2019.
In January, two State Government ministers visited Redlands Coast to announce major funding for local domestic violence support services.
The partnership project would see four new homes provided for families fleeing violent situations.
In addition, more than $76,000 would be made available each year for five years, to employ a worker to help support the children caught up in the violence.
The announcements were a big win for Maybanke Association president Rosemary Skelly, and her team of supporters, who have campaigned tirelessly for better services.
For years they have struggled with just two crisis care homes to serve the city, including its many bay islands. Like most areas today, it just hasn’t been enough.
Ms Skelly has been behind the work at Maybanke since its launch in 1988. Back then she thought domestic violence was something the community would eventually solve. Now she shakes her head, realising how wrong she had been.
“Domestic violence has such a high profile now,” she said.
“Unfortunately, I have to say, women and children have lost their lives in such a spectacular way … I don’t know why, but it takes that for the community to suddenly say ‘what is going on?’
“We’ve had so many homicides, one after the other in such a spectacular fashion, almost like execution, and the community has suddenly realised that it’s a massive problem.
“When we started this (association) in 1988, this area was just a very small community, the Redlands wasn’t a big place.
“And we thought when we started, that one day we wouldn’t have any need for the service. Now we are expanding.
“That’s 30 years on, and it’s taken 30 years – a whole generation – for people to ask ‘what is this domestic violence’.”
Reconciliation and working with the traditional Quandamooka land owners is an important focus for Redland Coast.
Singer and dancer Joshua Walker, a grandson of Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker), travels extensively to share his knowledge and perform.
The work often takes him from his Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) home, to the mainland – and even more distant destinations such as the Netherlands, Japan, Korea and Malaysia.
A member of the Salt Water Murris, a not-for-profit organisation supporting artists and storytellers, Mr Walker uses his work to educate the community.
He believes it is crucial for new Australians to have a good understanding of culture.
Mr Walker follows the teachings of his grandmother who wanted “integration, not assimilation”.