[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]June 2008, Vol 1, Issue 1

I am pleased to present the first edition of the John Byrne Memorial (JBM) newsletter, which aims to provide bi‑annual updates on what is happening at the JBM. We are also in the process of developing a website for the JBM that is being constructed with the assistance of Nola Grant and a team, including Shane Andrews, at Kangan Batman TAFE. We plan to launch the website at the next JBM fund-raising dinner on Saturday October 4th so please put this date in your diary!

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to members of the JBM Executive Committee 2008:

  • Naomi Ngo – Chair
    (Manager of the Multicultural Health & Support Service – A state-wide program of North Richmond Community Health Centre)
  • Carmel Guerra – Deputy Chair
    (Director of the Centre for Multicultural Youth)
  • Denis Grant – Treasurer
    (Accountant of Hughes O’Dea Corredig)
  • Annette Byrne-Phillips – Secretary
    (John’s sister)
  • Judy Cain – Member
    (Co-ordinator Regional Parenting Service, MacKillop Family Services)
  • David Marnie – Member
    (General Manager of Melbourne Citymission)

In addition to the Executive Committee, the JBM has three sub-committees:

  1. The JBM Scholarship Committee: responsible for the implementation of the JBM scholarships, which are currently awarded to two students per year; one from a secondary school and the other from a tertiary institution. This Committee can also convene forums and meetings with individuals, groups and organisations for information and advice on relevant issues. The Executive members on this Committee include Naomi Ngo, Annette Byrne-Phillips and Judy Cain.
  2. The JBM Lecture Committee: responsible for organising the JBM Lecture that is held annually on the anniversary of John’s death. The lecture covers topics that were of interest to John, centred on social justice and multicultural issues. Prominent guest speakers in these areas are invited to deliver the lectures and to receive questions and comments from the floor. The Executive members on this Committee include: Judy Cain, David Marnie and Carmel Guerra.
  3. The JBM Social Committee: responsible for organising the JBM fund-raising dinner, held every year close to John’s birthday. This event provides an opportunity for people who have shared John’s life, vision or interests to come together, celebrate and enjoy each other’s company as they raise money for our scholarships. As mentioned above, the date for the next fund-raising dinner is on Saturday the 4th of October at 501 Receptions, 501 Barkly Street, Footscray. The Executive members on this Committee include Annette Byrne-Phillips and Naomi Ngo, as well as a number of John’s friends and family members.

I would like to congratulate and thank all the members of our Executive Committee who have helped to establish the John Byrne Memorial and the sub-committees, as well as their valuable work on these committees.

I would also like to thank John’s other friends and family members who have assisted with the organisation of the fund-raising dinner over the last two years: Peter Phillips, Bich Thai, Trang Do, Danny Byrne, Huy Pham, Daniel Nguyen, Neil Ta, Loretta Bellato, Christopher Drago, Michael and Mark Walsh. And last but not least, a special thank you to Rudy Darmawan and Rebecca Alavi for the cover design of our newsletter. If it was not for everyone’s passion, enthusiasm, dedication and contribution to the JBM, our achievements to date would not have been possible.

Naomi Ngo – Chairperson

State Trustees Australia Foundation

The State Trustees Australia Foundation – The John Byrne Memorial was established in 2005. State Trustees Ltd is the Trustee and has the responsibility to ensure compliance with legislation in relation to donations and charitable trusts. Donations are invested in State Trustees Charitable Common Fund, which is designed specifically for the purposes of charitable foundations. All funds raised for The John Byrne Memorial are applied for the charitable purpose of providing scholarships to disadvantaged refugees and asylum seeker young people and their families.

The John Byrne Memorial Executive Committee would like to thank and congratulate the Administrative team who have helped to establish the JBM. Special thanks to Angela Todorovic, Therese Howell, Deniel Gordon and Fleur Bernasochi.

Annette Byrne Phillips – Secretary

The John Byrne Memorial Lecture

The John Byrne Memorial Lecture is a major fixture on the calendar for all those associated with the John Byrne Memorial and is held each year on or close to the anniversary of his death, 12 July. Australian Catholic University, where John was undertaking his PhD generously provides one of its two major lecture theatres for this event. Each year the organising committee has invited a speaker to address those present on a topic linked to John’s special interest in social justice issues.

In 2006 Mr Robert Stary, a leading Melbourne criminal lawyer and civil rights activist, shared his reflections on young people and human rights. With young Australian citizens facing severe penalties for drug offences overseas and people protesting about the human rights of those in Australian detention centres at that time, his presentation was very topical. Last year Mr Arnold Zable, award-winning writer, storyteller and human rights advocate was our guest speaker. He drew on his own immigrant experiences and stories about other “new Australians” to share in a poetic and gentle style his positive appreciation of the multiplicity of cultures within Australia.

This year Fr Peter Hansen is our guest speaker. The title of his talk is “Memories of an Execution: the Death of Nguyen Tuong Van.” Peter is the Parish Priest of Our Lady’s Parish, Craigieburn, and Lecturer in the History of the Church in Asia at the Catholic Theological College, Fitzroy. From 2000 until 2003, he was the Inaugural Director of the Mary of the Cross Centre (now a service of Centacare Catholic Family Services), which assisted families affected by problems relating to substance abuse. John was working with Peter and the Mary of the Cross Centre as the industry partner in the production of his doctoral thesis at the time of his death. Peter was a friend of John’s for many years, and celebrated his funeral.

In 2006, Peter was a part of the team which sought a reprieve for the death penalty for Nguyen Tuong Van, a young Vietnamese-Australian man convicted in Singapore of importing heroin. After these appeals were ignored by the government of Singapore, Peter celebrated Van’s funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

Judy Cain – JB Lecture Committee[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][testimonial_slider]

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Setting Up Our Scholarships

The Scholarship Committee held its inaugural meeting in October 2006 to begin the process of setting up and awarding scholarships on behalf of the John Byrne Memorial Fund, a sub fund of State Trustees Australia Foundation (STAF). While we were keen to set something up for 2008 we needed to keep in mind the long term aim of making scholarships available in perpetuity. To do this it is necessary to build up the capital in the fund so that the interest covers the amount needed to award annual scholarships.

The Committee adopted a five-year strategy to award two scholarships of $1,000 for each of the years 2008 – 2012. This would enable a significant amount of the capital raised through fundraising efforts such as the annual dinner to accumulate over that time. With continued support we may even have an option at the end of the five year period to award a full tertiary scholarship or a larger number of support scholarships.

At one of our meetings we spent considerable time talking about John’s work in schools and with community groups to discern the target group for our 2008 scholarships. When the fund was established its purpose was to provide support to disadvantaged refugee and asylum seeker young people and their families, with priority focus on those young people pursuing educational opportunities. With that as our goal, we consulted and met with student welfare personnel in secondary schools, development officers from two tertiary institutions and workers from refugee support agencies to refine our criteria. John’s connection to the western suburbs in both professional and private spheres led us to seek candidates living or studying in the west.

Once the decision was made to provide a scholarship to a student from John’s old stamping ground, Maribyrnong Secondary College, and one to a TAFE student at Victoria University (VU) the process of setting up the scholarships commenced. Representatives from the John Byrne Scholarship Committee met with staff from both institutions to draw up Memoranda of Understanding to ensure a rigorous and transparent process of selection was followed in selecting scholarship recipients.

At one of our VU meetings we heard that older “young people” in the age group 25 years to 35 years are the most disadvantaged in that they often have families to support and limited access to the range of scholarships and bursaries on offer. Their study is usually vocational in nature as it is imperative for them to find stable work quickly and basic qualifications are the key to future career success. This was taken into account when we set the following criteria for selection for the John Byrne Scholarship at VU:

  • Must be enrolled in a VU TAFE course of at least twelve months duration
  • Must be aged 25 to 35
  • Must be a refugee who has arrived in Australia in the last five years
  • Must be experiencing financial difficulty.

Responsibility for promotion of the scholarships and selection of recipients rested with the Principal and Student Welfare Coordinator at Maribyrnong Secondary College and the Scholarships Office at VU. We were delighted to announce that Arbenita Qorri from Kosovo was the recipient of the secondary school scholarship at our Annual Dinner in October 2007. At the beginning of the University year we were notified that Wol Akec Wol from Sudan was the successful candidate for the tertiary scholarship and we are very pleased to be able to support him in his studies. VU provided the John Byrne Memorial with a detailed report of the selection process noting that they received a total of nineteen applications.

In addition to the financial benefit provided by the scholarships we also offer informal academic and personal support through members of the John Byrne Memorial network to scholarship recipients should they wish. Wol has chosen to take this up and has been paired up with Janis Webb, a staff member at Victoria University who has generously offered to support Wol this year.

The JBM Scholarship Committee is grateful to Ros Casey, Director of Development and Executive Director Victoria University Foundation, and staff at the Scholarships Office, Victoria University and Madeline Pitcher, former Student Welfare Coordinator at Maribyrnong Secondary College for their assistance in establishing the inaugural John Byrne Scholarships.

Judy Cain – JBM Scholarships Committee[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][testimonial_slider]

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2008 Scholarship Recipients

Wol Akec Wol

The successful candidate for the 2008 John Byrne Scholarship at Victoria University is Mr Wol Akec Wol. He is 29 years of age, arrived in Australia in 2006 from Sudan and holds a Permanent Humanitarian Visa. He is currently enrolled on a full time basis in a Diploma of Information Technology (General) and an Advanced Diploma of Computer Systems Engineering, having completed a Certificate III in Information Technology in 2007.

Wol’s love of soccer has helped him to settle into Australia where he joined a soccer team in Sunshine last year. Unfortunately time spent travelling to VU and the pressure of study have seen his soccer-playing take a back seat this year but that has not stopped him from being a passionate supporter – even his mobile phone attests to his love of Manchester United!

Wol said he is most grateful for the scholarship which has allowed him to buy the books required for his course. When Wol completes his study he hopes to get a job here in Australia in the computer technology industry.

Arbenita Qorri

Arbenita came to Australia with her parents, brother and sister in 1999 among the 4000 Kosovar “expellees” granted temporary protection visas after being driven out of their war torn homeland in the late nineties.

Concerned about what lay ahead of them if they returned home and attracted by the opportunities Australia offered their children, the Qorris made a bid to stay here and were granted permanent protection in May last year after an eight-year wait.

With the support of Melbourne’s Albanian community they settled in the western suburbs and the close-knit family made the most of their opportunities. Last year 17-year old Arbenita was recommended for the John Byrne Scholarship by staff at her school, Maribyrnong Secondary College, and she writes ….

My name is Arbenita Qorri and I’m currently in Year 12 at Maribyrnong College. Last year I was fortunate enough to win the John Byrne Scholarship. After receiving the news from Miss Cameron, my Year 11 Coordinator, I was invited to a dinner where I received the award. At the dinner I met a lot of past students from Maribyrnong College and many of these people had achieved great success.

I was really excited to go to the dinner because I got to meet Mr John Byrne’s family, but unfortunately my nerves got the better of me and when I was accepting the award, when I said ‘thank you’ I mixed up a few names and that was a bit awkward.

On top of receiving the generous scholarship, I was given the honour of presenting next year’s scholarship to the lucky recipient, so I’m really looking forward to that.

Writing this gives me an opportunity to thank all the people involved in the organisation of the John Byrne Scholarship, especially Mr Byrne’s family who made me feel so welcome. The scholarship helped me a lot this year and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to receive it. I would also like to thank the teachers from Maribyrnong who were also at the dinner; it was nice to have familiar faces around me.

I am extremely honoured to have been the first recipient of the John Byrne Scholarship.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]