5th June, 2016

Annual Melbourne Lunch 2016

Melbourne produced an Irish Winter’s day for the annual Melbourne Luncheon on Sunday 5 June. Just under 180 guests came together to have some fun, enjoy great company and food not to mention the Guinness, Magners and Champagne reception.

MC Catherine Murphy introduced Paul O’Brien Director of The Australian Ireland Fund who welcomed guests including H.E. Noel White Irish Ambassador to Australia, fellow Board Members Ted Johnson, Dr. Tom Moore, Executive Director Teresa Keating, major supporter Fergus Ryan AO and the Young Leader Committee.  Paul also gave a special welcome to Ciaran Horgan of the Trinity College Alumni and his guests and to Julien O’Connell AM, Chairman of Mercy International Association.  MIA have taken up the fight to oppose human trafficking and modern day slavery as a non-government organisation member of the United Nations.

Paul also welcomed major sponsors Dean Cleaver Regional Manager Victoria and Tasmania for Emirates and Australian Radio Network.

Paul then took the opportunity to tell guests, like any organisation, we are revisiting our reason for being, our reason for why we do what we do and encouraged guests to provide feedback to us in person or by message on our message board.  Our vision is to become the largest network of friends of Ireland in Australia working with all the Irish and other organisations that have a connection to Ireland.  We want to be the charity of choice for those organisations and to do that we would love your feedback.   Paul noted that we held 18 events over the previous 12 months, including hosting 500 guests at our Sydney Garden Party at Fairwater the home of Lady Mary Fairfax AC,OBE;  our annual Brisbane Lunch; the launch of the YL Network in Brisbane and the Global 5K run in 16 cities around the world including Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Explaining how the funds we raise are spent Paul told guests, all projects that we support in Ireland are recommended to us by the Dublin office after a rigorous vetting process.  Paul was very pleased to let guests know that at our last Board meeting at the end of May we approved another grant round of approx. $400,000.  We are most proud however that over the last 5 years we have made grants of $2,395,801 and this equates to 92.67%  of donations received being directly allocated to our charities, as per our last published Trustee Report.

The Fund chose SOAR for a flagship grant this year, following on from a small grant last year.  Soar was inspired directly by Jim Stynes and the Reach Foundation – and is an outreach movement built on an early intervention model, to inspire young people aged 12 – 19 to have the self belief to fulfil their highest potential.  This is an important Melbourne and Irish Link for us and sees the Australian Ireland Fund be a major funder of Soar.

We are also supporting Solas (which means light) a long term, intensive intervention, working in some of the most disadvantaged areas in Dublin.

Suas Education Development another project to be supported provides direct literacy, numeracy and computer science support to children aged 8 – 14 in schools identified by Government as serving the most disadvantaged areas across Ireland.

Paul told guests together with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation we have donated $400,000 over the last 5 years to fund scholarships in four leading schools in Australia.  We have just signed a further 5 year commitment which will see both organisations support indigenous Scholarships to the tune of $800,000 in a 10 year period to 2020.

Last year saw the inaugural Hyman Tarlo Scholarship of Law at Trinity College Funded by Ruth Tarlo, a graduate of Trinity College herself in 1945, Ruth set up the scholarship in memory of her late Husband Hyman.  That scholarship was awarded to Samuel Tryer from Melbourne, he arrives back to Melbourne in July, no doubt you will see him at future events.

Paul Thanked guests for taking the time to come and be with us on the day.

Guests were then treated to a wonderful panel discussion with Ambassador Noel White, Prof. Patrick McGorry AO, Australian of the year 2010 and Olympian Sonia O’Sullivan We were very fortunate to have such a high calibre panel talking candidly about their roles as Ambassadors for their country.  Guests were captivated and could have listened to much more.

Later in the day guests were entertained by Mr. Bobby Fox, lead singer of the Jersey Boys.  MC Catherine welcomed and Introduced Bobby who told us of growing up in Longford and gaining a spot as a dancer in Riverdance at the age of 15, from then he knew performing was what he wanted to do.  Bobby had guests sing along with him to his rendition of “I Love you Baby”.

It was then time for the Live Auction conducted by James Slattery, who kindly donated his time to us and expertly sold the Emirates Business Class tickets to Director Ted Johnson.  Thanks also to Eureka Level 89, Australian Radio Network, Charles Curran AC, “Sydney”, John O’Neill AO and Sokyo.  Colin Patterson for his wonderful painting.  Sheen Falls, the Merrion and Emerald Travel.

Adrian Hanley Co-Chair of the Melbourne Young Leaders explained some of the activity they had undertaken over the last year and told guests of the upcoming Global 5K run, which will take place in 16 cities around the world on 24 September.  Adrian thanked Sonia O’Sullivan for agreeing to be the global patron again and encouraged guests present to join the run this year.

The after lunch entertainment was provided by Zeon a local Irish Indie Folk group as guests relaxed and networked enjoying Irish coffees and roaming desserts.

Guests really enjoyed the lunch, the food, company and entertainment with the highlight being the panel discussion.  Thanks to all for making this another wonderful Australian Ireland Fund event.

Teresa Keating
Executive Director