Sunday, May 19, 2013

Foreword  by Her Excellency the Honourable Ms Quentin Bryce, AC, CVO
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

"Wallaby Stew "Sid Harta Publishers Melbourne Australia

Between these covers you will read stories of courage and hope from young people,
collected by Diane Perkins whose friendship has been important and influential in our
family for many decades. We went to the same school, though not at the same time;
we didn't have to be there at the same time to absorb the school motto "Fortitudine et
spe", or remember, forever and a day, the melody and words of the school song ....
"To you, om school we owe so much that we cannot repay, whe'ere we go we'll ne'er
forget om days at Moreton Bay, the problems shared, the pleasures too, the games we
lost and won, the work and all the happy homs we spent when work was done ... ".

School days linger through our much longer lives, they feature in many of these
stories, all of which describe comage and hope. Om shared memories are of breezes
sloping in from the wide blue Pacific across the bay cooling the air flowing through
the Queenslander louvred latticed wooden buildings where we lived, the spacious
gardens shaded by old fig trees, poincianas and jacarandas where we relaxed, played
and read on the paspalum and couch grass. Lifelong friendships were formed as were
ideas of loyalty, duty and service. By traditional teaching methods of rote, discussion
and lively debate from a series of rather eccentric teachers we learned what was
essential on the voyage of life; our school badge included the star of hope, the rock of
courage and the sea of despair. The sea of despair had to be avoided at any cost,
though we should prepare for storms and wild weather; we were reminded of this
when we sang, at least once a term the hymn "For those in peril on the sea". The
school has since relocated, is a much larger establishment and boys attend; one
ponders the content of emails they send to their families; we wrote letters with pens,
usually fountain pens, and perfumed stationery was discouraged.

Two of my sisters also attended Moreton Bay College; Helene and Diane have
remained close friends though living oceans apart. The Perkins family raised their
family in Mt. Isa. Di's work ethic meant she was compelled to do something else as
well as teach in the high school and she wrote local history books to fulfill this need.
Each time I visited Mt. Isa I witnessed her vivacious and generous involvement in
community activities. Years later the family moved to Brisbane and Di, with her
husband Bill, frequently visited my mother at Mt. Tamborine; two mothers with much
to share, both having brought up four daughters. Together they poured over the family
collection of Box Brownie black and white photos, identifying places and
personalities. Mother delighted in being a primary resource for Di's research into the
Queensland outback. Country people have long memories of people and events and
our valued friend has gathered many in her books.

The voices in Wallaby Stew are of young people from differing backgrounds and
through the experiences related we glean their hopes for life in 21st century Australia.
The collection will gladden hearts; young people revealing hopes and dreams, being
frank about weaknesses and in a few cases surprised to discover their strengths.
Exploring the heights, depths and breadths of their emotions through relationships
with friends and families, they describe the importance of finding one's own direction
and of surviving false starts. In 'Disability is only in your mind' Candice advises
"don't let other people set your limits". The interviewer might have asked the easy
questions but these young people have struggled to find hard won answers; wishful
thinking, wistful reflection. Listen to them, they shape the society and community in
which we grow; family is central to all of the stories, these young people are wise
enough to recognise its value and influence.

Signed, Quentin Bryce, AC, CVO
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

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