John Peden, Foundation Chair
Photo (2017 Cocktail Function): Tom Cliffe, Mitchell Knight, Clayton Zarb, Tom Watkins, Kyra Ng, Rachel Garvey.
We’ve almost hit the half-way mark in 2017 and as usual there is much going on both at College and behind the scenes. Through this newsletter we aim to share with you insights of our on and off campus activities and milestones and hope you enjoy this snapshot of our College community.
In January, with much sadness, we farewelled College Warden (2013 – 2016) The Reverend Dr. James Rigney.
Reverend Professor Rodney Wolff has occupied the position of Acting Warden in this time and, with his official appointment as Warden of the College, we are pleased to welcome Reverend Wolff in his new role. Rodney brings many attributes to the position, including distinguished academic prowess and a profound humanitarian nature – very necessary to guide 300 young adults through their time at College!
The Archbishop conducted Rodney’s Investiture last weekend and it was wonderful to see the occasion celebrated with great ceremony.
Earlier this year, the Foundation held its own small ceremony, in the form of a cocktail party to celebrate the donors and awardees of the scholarships and bursaries program. This year’s awardees, approximately 55 in total, are an outstanding group and the Foundation is indebted to Jane Williamson and Cath Parkinson (nee Nilsson) for their hard work in bringing the program together in a co-ordinated and principled way.
It is particularly pleasing this year to have been able to award the inaugural Joe Croft Award to a young indigenous student from Toowoomba; Jacob Currie. As many of our readers know, this award is in honour of Joe Croft, who attended St John’s College and was the first indigenous student to attend university in Australia. Joe left St John’s after a year, supposedly in part because of an inability to pay the then fees. Joe was a remarkable man. He was a member of the Gurindji people. He was removed from his family in 1927 at the age of four and became, unwillingly, a part of the Stolen Generation. He grew up in compounds around Darwin and Alice Springs. He attended All Souls School in Charters Towers and then the University of Queensland. He became a surveyor, working on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme in the 1950s. It was Joe’s people who instigated the famous Gurindji Walk-Off in 1966, which was the event that sparked the national land rights movement, including the 1976 Northern Territory Aboriginal Land Rights Act.
“Surveying the unknown/Kurnai (1999) – Dad was a surveyor working on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme. It was in the late 1950s and Australia was welcoming migrants, not like the anti-refugee backlash we have now. Even though Dad was possibly the only Indigenous man working there, he said there was never any prejudice on the job. The work’s also a comment on how the Snowy Scheme altered the traditional landscape of the original First Nations and overlooked their presence in the region.” Brenda L Croft
While Joe passed away a number of years ago, his daughter Brenda has curated a celebration of parts of his life in an installation currently showing at the University of New South Wales called Still in my mind: Gurindji location, experience and visuality. The exhibition will be coming to the University of Queensland in August and the Foundation is hoping to arrange an event to coincide with the showing.
While the Foundation has funded the initial Joe Croft Award from its general funds, our aim this year and next is to build a sizeable fund to ensure the ongoing viability of the Joe Croft Award. I encourage everyone to contribute to this very worthwhile cause. Further information will be distributed in the coming weeks.
Reference: The photos of Joe Croft and his family are from Brenda L. Croft’s collection and subsequent multimedia artworks.
John Peden is a Brisbane based barrister. He has been in private practice since 2000, and before that spent time as a solicitor in Brisbane and London. He graduated from the University of Queensland with degrees in Commerce and Law. He attended the College between 1984 and 1986, including service on the O Week Committee and on the Student Executive as Treasurer. He has been a director of the Foundation since 1996 and Chair since 2013. He is married with three children, two of whom are currently studying at the University of Queensland. He runs marathons for fun and enjoys golf and gardening. His role as Chairman has required him to learn a great deal more about databases than he thought he’d ever need to know.
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