The warm Queensland winter once again brought out the best of the beautiful Hillstone St Lucia as friends and supporters, old and new, gathered for the annual Ireland Funds Australia Brisbane Luncheon on Friday 9 August.
Marist College Ashgrove graduate Jerome Pang started off proceedings with an Acknowledgement of Country and spoke about the impact receiving an AIEF scholarship had on his educational trajectory and recognised the longstanding partnership between The Ireland Funds Australia and the AIEF.
Chairman Yvonne Le Bas welcomed the opportunity to thank guests for their continued support of the Fund, including Major sponsors Australian Radio Network, Charles Curran AC and Star Entertainment Group, Board Members, Governors, Associates, Benefactors and Young Leaders.
Yvonne gave an update on the work of the Fund over the last 12 months including:
- Our June 2019 Grant Round of over $400,000 supporting 18 projects across the island of Ireland and here in Australia
- Our support for Soar from 2015 – 2019, with direct results including providing 70 facilitators and 45 youth crew, as well as their “Stripped” program which reaches 1320 young women in 22 schools across Ireland.
- Our support of Irish Men’s Sheds, originally an Australian initiative, which is improving the health and well-being of men across Ireland
- Continuation of our partnership with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation which will see us having supported 80 scholarship places to the tune of $800,000 by 2020. Two of those schools include Marist College Ashgrove and St. Peters Lutheran in Brisbane.
Yvonne mentioned that Australia was well-represented at the annual Worldwide Conference in Belfast. We were able to visit integrated schools and see our funding in action which was very gratifying. During our visit it was clear to see that support for the people of Northern Ireland and integrated education in particular, is still needed. With recent unrest in Derry and uncertainty around Brexit, it’s evident that peace is a process which needs continuous nurturing and we at The Ireland Funds Australia are proud of the contribution we have made to that process since our inception.
ABC Sports Reporter and Australian Young Leader Catherine Murphy kept us on track as MC, and did a wonderful job getting insights from John O’Neill AO, Chairman of the Star Entertainment Group and former Chairman of Rugby Australia and The Ireland Funds Australia. John is well loved in Brisbane and a loud chorus of Happy Birthday was sung to him.
There was a distinctive Irish flavour for the event, with the Barleyshakes giving us traditional tunes Walker School of Irish Dance who gave a sensational performance and then invited guests to the dance floor to learn some steps of Irish dancing themselves.
Huge thank you also to our Auctioneer Chris McKearney of EBM Insurance and Risk Cover for travelling up from Melbourne for the day to help us. Thank you to everyone who attended for all your support, helping us to raise much needed funds for our very worthy projects; without our supporters we could not do what we do.
Photos by About Time Co.