By Melissa Sheil
BEING a recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia is no small feat, yet Gooseberry Hill resident Brian Gordon believes it is the people who have worked with him along the way that deserve a fair share of the honour.
Mr Gordon was recognised on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List on Monday for his abundance of work in charity, education, government and executive roles across the better part of 50 years.
Among running a number of not-for-profits, he founded Foodbank WA and The Christian Refuge Centres Inc, two groups responsible for feeding and housing hundreds of disadvantaged families across the state.
“Though some of my other ventures were more quantifiably meaningful in the number of people they reached and helped – Foodbank for example now services thousands of agencies – it was the Christian Refuge Centre that meant the most me,” Mr Gordon said.
“It was my heartbeat and became a real community hub that meant a lot to many people.
“We helped hundreds of homeless people find places to live and developed many strategies to assist homeless youth, families and marginalised people get back on their feet.”
The Christian Refuge Centres later morphed into Perth City Mission which still continues the same work today.
Mr Gordon also ran the Meerilinga Children’s Foundation, a peak body for early childhood agencies and Australian Red Cross WA.
Under his leadership, Red Cross WA received the Spirit of WA trophy for a number of initiatives outside of its designated relief role and the raising of about $1 million dollars in a special disaster appeal when cyclones devastated the northwest.
He stood on and oversaw several key government committees on the Legislative Assembly across the years, including the Community Development and Justice Standing Committee, the Education and Health Standing Committee, the Victims Advisory Committee and the Task Force on Poverty.
“I think it comes around to the vision of humanity and community that one has,” he said.
“For me, the driving force has been recognition of the need of so many people in this first world country and trying to address that in different ways.
“It was meeting the people that have volunteered their lives and time, people with huge passion to help others, who are remarkable.”
Mr Gordon’s daughter-in-law and wife began the process of nominating him for the award two years ago – though he knew nothing about it until last month.
“I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to make a difference in people’s lives and in different ways in each season of my life,” he said.
“While I feel honoured and humbled by the award, the work has been the result of collaboration with people along the way.
“I’m not a lone ranger, my skill in part is bringing people together to do the important work.”
Now aged 77, Mr Gordon has entered semi-retirement to spend time with his five children, eight grandchildren and wife Grace, though still sits on the board of Gooseberry Hill Primary School, not-for-profit Behaviour Change Collaborative and works as director of the Forrestfield and High Wycombe Bendigo Community Bank where he helps designate the return of profits to community organisations.
See next week’s edition of Echo News for a feature on South Guildford OAM awardee Janette Owen.