Page 369 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 15 February 2005
not true, although, unfortunately, those who seek to behave well towards the earth and their fellow humans are not immortal, as we would like them to be.
The truth is that it is always hard to lose someone we love, especially if that person should, by the law of averages, have years of life ahead of them. Charlie would have been 45 this year. Someone said: “We still expect Charlie to walk through the door. He has been away before and he has always come back before.” Many of us still have emails from him on our desktops. I am very reluctant to delete the last email I received from him. In my diary is recorded a meeting I had with him on some of the community work he was doing just before he left for his holiday in Samoa.
Charlie was a brilliant networker and communicator. In this speech, I would like to tell his story in his own words, reading the bio that he wrote and polished for the ACT election last year, where he stood with Amanda Bresnan and me as a candidate for Molonglo. Thousands of these bios were distributed. I really felt sure that, if people had known the qualities of the man, he would have been my colleague in office as well as on the hustings. These are his words:
I emigrated to Australia with my family when I was 10. After graduating from the University of Western Sydney with a degree in agriculture, I spent ten years in Thailand and Laos, working side by side with local communities to support appropriate economic and social development. During this time I formed a deep commitment to supporting local peoples in their struggles to protect and sustain their livelihoods, cultures and natural resources.
Rivers are a particular passion of mine, and during my time in South-East Asia I learned much about the importance of healthy watersheds and river systems, and how they are the life-line and arteries of our eco-systems. I also worked with local communities and non-government organisations to campaign against environmentally and socially destructive large-scale dams in the Mekong region.
I settled in Canberra in 1996 and currently live in Watson with my children. I have worked with a number of community organisations on social justice, Indigenous rights and environmental issues. In my work with the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS), I have deepened my interest in and understanding of current social issues in the ACT, especially mental health, housing and disability services.
As a candidate for Molonglo, I bring substantial experience in advocating for a fairer world, and a commitment to working in partnership with people to build a better Canberra. I want to build on the work of the ACT Greens to foster a dynamic and equitable community. I believe that the small size, educated population and relative wealth of Canberra should allow us to do better in terms of social justice and environmental sustainability—if we can’t get it right here, then where?
I first met Charlie when he was a passionate campaigner for Community Aid Abroad, that dynamic people-to-people development organisation, which used to have an office in the Griffin Centre, and a wonderful community development approach both in its local awareness-raising work and with partner groups in poor countries. Being defunded by the national office as it turned itself into Oxfam CAA and breaking its tradition of grassroots organising through local groups forged a close community and certainly