12th August, 2016

Brisbane Gala Luncheon 2016

Brisbane Luncheon 2016
The lunch took place on Friday 12 August 2016 back at our home of Hillstone St. Lucia, where the weather was beautiful, once again.

MC for the day was our own Catherine Murphy who kept proceedings on track throughout the afternoon.

Australian Ireland Fund Chairman, John O’Neill AO, officially welcomed guests, many from Brisbane’s top corporate institutions. Special guests on the day included Ambassador of Ireland to Australia H.E. Noel White and his wife Nessa Delaney, Julie O’Neill, Dick McGruther, Australian Ireland Fund Directors Dr Tom Moore, Professor Iain Watson,  Peter Ryan and Toni Ryan, as well as former Board Member Sallyanne Atkinson AO and Executive Director Teresa Keating and the Chair of the Young Leaders in Brisbane Brendan Sheehan.

The Chairman also welcomed the Trinity College Alumni table headed up by Kieran O’Brien and representatives of the Irish Australian Support Agency of Queensland.

The Chairman was delighted to tell guests, with their help, we had made grants in June 2016 of close to $400,000 to projects in the Republic of Ireland and indigenous scholarships in Australia, locally at Marist College Ashgrove and St. Peter’s Lutheran College.  The Board provided a grant to Soar, an Irish charity inspired by the Reach Foundation in Melbourne that was founded by Jim Stynes, a Dubliner and Brownlow medal recipient.

Soar is an outreach movement built on an early intervention model, with the purpose of inspiring young people aged 12-19 to have the self-belief to fulfil their highest potential, take ownership of their lives and dare to dream.

The other projects to benefit from the work of the Australian Ireland Fund are; Solas (which means light) who provide an after school club in Basin Lane flats Dublin 8, having grown from serving 7 girls in 2007 to running 7 programmes helping over 500 young people in the community today. The support of the AIF will allow them to scale up with the hope of reaching 1000 young people by the end of 2017. Suas Educational Development who will provide direct literacy support to 1,475 children aged 8-14 from disadvantaged communities in Westmeath.

The Chairman thanked major sponsors in particular; Emirates represented by Leonie Brennan, Regional Manager for Queensland, Australian Radio Network and Ciaran Davis, Charles Curran AC and Capital Investment Group, The Star, Fleming Hotels Mayfair, Diageo, Waterford Crystal and Maureen McCarthy.

Later in the afternoon, the Brisbane audience enjoyed an animated discussion from a distinguished panel including HE Ambassador Noel White, AIF Chairman John O’Neill AO and two time World Cup winning Wallaby Tim Horan AM. With his stint in Canberra drawing to a close, the Ambassador reflected on his time in the Australian Capital while the Chairman and former CEO of the ARU gave a fascinating insight into the complexity of running major sports events, speaking of his time at the helm of the ARU and in particular the successful 2003 World Cup. Former Wallaby and Fox Sports pundit Tim Horan shared his memories of playing against Ireland during his career, not to mention being part of the famous Wallabies victory that broke Irish hearts in 1991, the Rugby World Cup quarter final at Lansdowne Road.

Husband and Wife Duo Jenny Fitzgibbon and Steve Cook then provided some entertainment for us before the Live Auction was masterfully conducted by Patrick Slattery, Chairman of Slattery Auctions.

Director of the Fund Prof. Iain Watson then introduced an opportunity for guests present to support one child for one month in the Solas Project in Dublin to ensure they receive a hot meal, help with their homework and the one on one support they need to reach their potential.  Guests were very generous with their support of this activity enabling us to more than achieve our goal of raising enough to support one child for 12 months.

Brisbane Young Leader Chair, Brendan Sheehan provided an overview of the activity of the Young Leader Network and how important the group is to the Australian Ireland Fund. He indicated that the Global 5K was the next event to take place in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday 24 September and Sonia O’Sullivan has agreed to be the Global patron.  It would be great to see as many people as possible turn out and support the Run which will again take place in South Bank, Brisbane at 7a.m.

The afternoon continued with drinks and networking.
Thank you to all of our table captains, sponsors and guests, quite simply our work would not be possible without your help.