From the Alumni Liaison Officer, Robyn Moore
Last Thursday, 26 October 2017, over 90 old boys of the College who graduated in 1967 and earlier returned to the College at our annual Back to Waverley day.
The day consisted of Mass, morning tea, a Head’s Assembly, and then lunch in the PAC. The roll call of old students as part of the Assembly is a particularly moving moment for our olds boys as they are acknowledged by our current student body.
This year, our oldest returnee was Frank Ellis who left the College in 1936, some 81 years ago! He was accompanied by his son, John, also an old boy from the Class of 1968. Two of Frank’s daughters and his nephew were also able to make this special occasion for Frank.
Our special guests from the Class of 1967, incidentally the first year to sit for the NSW Higher School Certificate, included Captain of the College John Fogarty, Vice Captain Peter Dunn, Dux Paul Russell, winner of the JJ O’Brien Award Patrick McClure, as well as William Choi, Steve Cookson, Frank Donohoe, Michael Englebretsen, Kevin Phibbs, Paul Ryan and Tony Santamaria.
Patrick McClure spoke to the Assembly on behalf of the old boys and his speech is reproduced below.
Address by Patrick McClure AO to Back to Waverley Assembly
Returning to Waverley brings back a lot of good memories for me.
We recently had our 50 year class reunion and our theme for the occasion was “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story!” It was a great occasion and a lot of lies and stories were probably told. I found it interesting to observe how our personalities were very similar to our college days!
In 1967 Waverley had a cross-section of boys from different socio-economic backgrounds. It was a robust and competitive environment where talent and hard work was rewarded, regardless of background. It set us up well for the challenges of our later ife.
At Waverley I liked rugby and a highlight for me was to play in the Ist XV under our captain, John Fogarty, who is here today. I was having a good season until we played the Old Boys. A Wallaby Tony Moore was playing for them and I tackled him a couple of times. I obviously really annoyed him because he crash-tackled me and broke my leg. I still remember the experience and have a score to settle with him.
I also enjoyed debating and oratory and Peter Watson, known affectionately as “Percy”, was our teacher and coach. “Perc” was also an inspiring teacher of English Literature. I took him out to lunch a few years ago to tell him that he was the best teacher I had and how he had given me a lifelong love of public speaking and literature.
Since leaving the college I have pursued a career in the social purpose sector as CEO of Mission Australia and CEO of the Society of St Vincent. In looking back at my career it has been very rewarding and I feel that I have made a difference in Australian society through developing social policy and programs that assist disadvantaged Australians.
I would encourage you when you leave school to consider a career in the social purpose sector. There are many fine national and international organisations like the Society of St Vincent de Paul, Mission Australia, the Smith Family, the Benevolent Society or World Vision, where you can have a good career, be well remunerated and make a difference nationally or internationally. Become a man for others!
I would like to talk with you about one of the challenging social issues facing Australia: youth homelessness.
There are about 30,000 teenagers and young adults, aged from 12- 28 years, who are homeless in Australia. The causes of their homelessness are complex: family breakdown, domestic violence, physical/or sexual abuse, drug and alcohol issues, mental illness, unemployment.
One of the more effective programs that I have been involved in designing is Triple Care Farm run by Mission Australia and located in Robertson in the Southern Highlands. It is a fifty acre farm set in a beautiful rainforest.
The farm provides a comprehensive program of accommodation, individual support and counselling, sport and recreation, vocational training and aftercare for disadvantaged young people aged 16-24 years for six months.
It has training rooms, a gymnasium, farm equipment including tractors where they get a tractor license , a vegetable garden, dogs, cattle and sheep. For many it is their first experience of farm life.
The results have been very positive in the lives of the graduates who leave the farm: helping to stabilize their lives; improving relationships with their parents; reducing their drug and alcohol abuse; and providing a pathway to training and employment.
Each year there is a graduation ceremony for students and the highlight is to hear the inspiring speeches of the graduates as they talk about the changes in their lives.
I would like to finish with a favourite quotation of mine from a speech by Robert Kennedy:
“Few of us will have the greatness to change history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of our generation. It is from numerous acts of courage that human history is shaped. Each time an individual stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of poverty and oppression.”
Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows and the censure of their colleagues. For moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields painfully to change …’
Kennedy finished his speech with the saying:
“Some people see things as they are and ask why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?”