Grove of Gratitude

Grove of Gratitude

First we would like to thank the Dja Dja Warrung people for allowing us to utilise this space on their land to honour all of our communities.  We are grateful to be able to do something that gives back to their land and to care for their land.

First we would like to thank the Dja Dja Warrung people for allowing us to utilise this space on their land to honour all of our communities.  We are grateful to be able to do something that gives back to their land and to care for their land.

The Grove of Gratitude was inspired by the concept of the Avenue of Honour that exists all around Country Australia.  We at first, were looking for a spot to plant trees in a row.  When we approached the council about possible locations, they came through with a location even better than we ever expected: Lake Daylesford.  That is when the project truly started to take shape.  Instead of only a line of trees, we now had a place to revegetate over 5 years. Once we had such a large ideal location, we then wanted to include other LGBTQIA+ organisations from Victoria, and in the future, other parts of Australia.  The name eluded us for a while, but then the Grove of Gratitude came to the forefront, and seemed appropriate.  This Grove is not just a memorial, it is a living museum to our communities.  We look forward to seeing this Grove grow and become a journey in and of itself through the Australian LGBTQIA+ stories.  Our pasts, our presents, and our futures.  We welcome all to come and sit, reflect, picnic and be among the spirit of our communities.

We thank the following people and organisations for their support in getting this project off the ground:  Greg Mallyon, Cheyney Caddy, Kirsten Holden, Mack Ebelt, Margaret Thomas and Friends of Cornish Hill, Brian Bainbridge and Hepburn Shire Council, the Team at Aussie Broadband, HOME Hardware Daylesford and the Victorian Government’s Equality branch.  

Just to give you an idea of how this will work, the Grove will have a place marker designating it, but the trees will not have plaques on them.  We will be working with Aussie Broadband over the coming months to GeoTag the trees, so that the visitors can read about their story.  

We thank all the people and organisations who are represented at this stage and look forward to adding to this list.
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Peter Dewildt

Peter Dewildt was the first president of Pride March Victoria (now known as Midsumma Pride March).

“Being gay doesn’t mean anything anymore, you are just part of the overall community. There is no need for us to be treated any differently.” – Peter Dewildt.

Peter’s motivation towards initiating Victoria’s first Pride March was because Peter (along with the small group that became to make Pride March Victoria) felt that Melbourne’s LGBTI community needed to share their own voice and their own stories that were intrinsically a Melbourne show of Pride; and its courage, strength, and diversity in an inclusive way.

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The first Pride March was held in 1996 and attracted an unexpected 11,000 participants, when initially Peter expected around 3,000. This was mind-blowing for a first-time event organised by a volunteer committee in just a few months with minimal funds.

Peter’s vision for Pride March was for it to get bigger and stronger each year with more and more community organisations participating.

Peter remained as President of the committee for a further two marches, finalising his tenancy in 1999.

Some highlights of Peter’s time with Pride March included the then Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon leading a very strong Police contingent marching, and for the first time a Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews participating in the March.

One of Peter’s proudest moments was the first Pride March and receiving the Rainbow award for the Best Community Service Event in 1996.

Peter was interviewed on SBS news for the 20th anniversary of Pride March. Peter’s words at the end of the interview were “Being gay doesn’t mean anything anymore, you are just part of the overall community. There is no need for us to be treated any differently.”

Peter was born on the 23rd May 1953 in Hastings, Victoria, and grew up in Carrum Downs.

Peter attended primary school in Skye and secondary school in Dandenong. Peter graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Computer Science.

Peter enjoyed travel, politics, good food, wine and some of the finer things in life.

Peter has two children Laura and Damien. Peter was with his partner Graeme for over 30 years and was thrilled to legally marry Graeme 9 months prior to his passing.

Peter passed on 13 September 2019.

*information supplied by Peter’s children Laura and Damien and husband Graeme. Peter is honoured by Midsumma Festival’s annual Midsumma Pride March awards: Most Significant Message – awarded to the group with a timely and well-conveyed message.

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Alan Drummond

Alan Drummond has been an integral and much-loved presence at Midsumma Festival, having been a year-round volunteer since Midsumma Festival 2006, having retired from the “9 to 5”. His wealth of knowledge and experience has provided a comforting helping hand to the Midsumma team. Alan has facilitated growth across the queer arts and culture scene in Melbourne. His passion for queer theatre, literature and film is well known and has led him on a fulfilling journey of volunteering across several prominent organisations.

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Alan grew up on a farm in Northeast Victoria with no access to information on what it meant to be gay and to express one’s sexual orientation. He now strives to ensure that the younger generation today are better equipped with freely accessible information, utilising his background in software development for this purpose. He is always keen to learn and keep up with the advancements in technology, being passionate about trying to convey a message as clearly and simply as possible. He prioritises inclusivity and tolerance in his efforts at giving back to the community. He has watched Midsumma Festival grow to what it is today, having played an instrumental role in its progress with his exceptional organisational and documenting skills. His journey in helping others has also included assisting other volunteers and he greatly appreciates watching people gain from giving.

Working with Alan is beyond inspirational. He firmly believes that everyone has a duty to leave the world better than they found it and he extends this principle in all the actions he undertakes. Besides Midsumma Festival, Alan has contributed extensively to the queer community through numerous volunteering roles. Significant among these is his work at Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, The Nomads Outdoors Group and the Melbourne Queer Film Festival. He endeavours to create a fairer, healthier society and his immense volunteering experience is a testament to the impact he has had in this venture.

Alan is currently the volunteer IT & Applications Coordinator at Midsumma Festival, and we hope to keep him around for many more years to come.

*interview with Alan Drummond supplied by Midsumma Festival 2021

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Ayman Barbaresco

“People need to accept that people with disabilities who identify as same-sex attracted have the same sexual and romantic needs as able-bodied people.” – Ayman Barbaresco

The late Ayman Barbaresco touched the lives of many in the LGBTQIA+ community in Melbourne. He was an inspirational figure, who dedicated his life to supporting those that needed it, providing a voice for the marginalized and silenced. His commitment to volunteering, advocacy and activism has left a lasting impression throughout the community.

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Ayman fought tirelessly and assertively for inclusion and accessibility. Being a gay man from a regional area, having a disability and living with cancer, he was driven to improving the lives of others and ensuring that everyone had access to the support that he didn’t. He was committed to community, inclusion, health and access, with the majority of his work being voluntary. He was passionate about building awareness about living with cancer and about disability rights. Intersectionality was at the core of the work he engaged in, making certain that queer individuals with disabilities and queer people of colour had the means to empower themselves and had an accessible and accepting space to flourish in. His volunteering efforts spanned across multiple organizations, including Midsumma Festival, Switchboard Victoria, Victorian Pride Centre, Thorne Harbour Health, Drummond Street Services & Queerspace, JOY94.9 and AGMC Australian LGBTI Multicultural Council.

Ayman Barbaresco was someone that one could always rely on. Seeing the lives of others that he helped change and improve motivated him to keep volunteering. He was an exceedingly active and visible figure, providing so many with the strength and confidence they lacked. He offered his time to supporting the community generously and without hesitation. His resilience and positivity have and will inspire countless others.

Ayman passed 19 June 2020.

*information provided by submission committee for GLOBE awards 2020 – Volunteer of the Year

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Gale Orford

Gale Orford is a much missed face in the Daylesford Community. She would often introduce herself as “Hi, I’m Gale, like the big wind”. And what a wind she was, she blew through may lives, leaving a lasting impression. She was a very proud member of the LGBTI community but contributed widely to the Daylesford community as a whole. She contributed in may ways and can best be described in the words from her nomination to the Heather Mutimer Women’s Honour Roll, Hepburn Shire.

Gale was a second mother to a generation of children. They’ll boast about her stellar hugs, her guiding voice and bottomless love.

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Educating and empowering children was Gale’s greatest strength. The result is a generation of children passing on her wisdom, work ethic and love. That is what makes our community strong.

Daylesford was lucky to be gifted with Gale Orford, a woman who gave everything she had for her community and its children.

Gale certainly gave her all to the community. She broke ground when the Hepburn Springs Golf Club Committee asked her to run for President – and she became the first woman to preside over the golf club since its foundation in 1926.

And in less public ways, she gave…. She was passionate about sustainability. She made biodiesel from used cooking oil in order to run her ute with fewer emissions. She went to the schools and talked about this so young people would see what’s possible.

“…her honesty, sincerity, integrity, empathy and constant good humour always felt to me like an important mainstay of what being in Daylesford meant to me. She will remain as someone who uplifts and inspires me.”

“…her warmth, her hugs, her vivid smile, her passion for life and all that she was doing. She spread much joy and happiness to all those who knew and loved her. It was an honour to know her. The “GALE” force “wind” beneath many wings…”

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Springs Connections

Margaret remembers the day Springs Connections was formed:

“I invited around two lesbian friends and two gay male friends for dinner, and we were chatting away and we thought we should have a lesbian and gay group in Daylesford. That was the birth of Springs Connections.”

From this initial idea, a group was quickly formed and Springs Connections became an active advocate for gay and lesbian enterprise in the Daylesford and Hepburn area. Every Friday night, local and visiting lesbian women and gay men were invited to attend Absolutely Fabulous Jack’s to mingle upstairs at what was the Alpha Gallery. It was also a great promotional tool for local business owners to encourage more gay and lesbian visitors to the area. An early brochure produced by Springs Connections proclaimed:

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“Gay men and lesbians represent many of the businesses in the region, and can offer excellent accommodation, fine dining, galleries, massage and even gay horse riding…”

Leanne Spain, one of the early members of Springs Connections, remembers the group ‘did a lot of great activities within the community to support those business people and their members, but started to broaden out a lot more into the community to help out there as well’. Very quickly, a dynamic business network formed that found a way to tap into the ‘pink dollar’ tourist market from Melbourne and surrounds. Local resident Anneke Deutsch recalled that the success Springs Connections had in networking with the wider queer community ‘was probably the motivation for getting ChillOut going’.

Tulku Rose was involved with Springs Connections in the early days of ChillOut and remembers the first event. ‘We just decided we were going to do it’. A small number of the Springs Connections committee members travelled to Melbourne for Pride March and marched with the Springs Connections banner, handing out flyers advertising the upcoming ChillOut day. ‘That was our first form of advertising’, comments Leanne, ‘marching under the Springs Connections banner and having handouts along the path, handing those out to people’.

Max Primmer noticed a change in the local community’s attitude amongst those who were hesitant about such a large LGBT presence in the town over the Labour Day weekend. As Max recalls, ‘all of a sudden businesses [noticed] … hang on, these people come here for that weekend, every one of them says please and thank you, every one of them stands in a queue and waits their turn … people are just so relaxed’. It was the same with the local police, who were impressed each year by the amount of people the festival attracted but the minimum trouble it caused. ChillOut was also beginning to attract international attention by this stage, with the popular US website www.gay.com voting Daylesford and ChillOut among the top ten ‘secret’ gay getaways in the world.

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Marcel Winkelmann

Margaret remembers that it was at a Springs Connections meeting at the end of 1996 that Marcel Winkelmann suggested that Daylesford should have its own lesbian and gay event. Tom Cockram, a member of Springs Connections at this time, recalls:

“… we had Midsumma, then we had the Pride March, then there was Mardi Gras in Sydney and all of a sudden – riding on the crest of the wave – what do we do? Staschia Houda and Marcel Winkelmann

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It was Marcel Winkelmann’s sister, Staschia Houda who came up with the name to capture the spirit of the event: ChillOut.

From the very beginning, it was important that the event was unique. Early organisers wanted to emphasise the country feel of Daylesford. ‘We wanted it to be a fun day’, recalls Margaret, ‘a country fun day’. The event was also an important way of profile-raising for the gay and lesbian community in Daylesford as well as the wider Hepburn Shire region. Leanne remembers that:

“It was definitely about community and awareness and providing an avenue for country Victorian LGBT people to come together and network, and have an event that they could attend that was their own.”

“The whole idea was not only to provide an event for our community but also to raise money where we would be able to provide something back to the mainstream community or even to our own community … We were born out of Springs Connections, which was a commerce type body, so part of our focus was also to drive business in our LGBT businesses obviously, but also for the broader community.

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Harriet Cornfeld-Fraser

Harriet Cornfeld Fraser was a bright and bubbly soul and is remembered amongst the JOY family as a generous and selfless person with a big, yet private heart.

As a person, she had a wealth of worldly experience, and Harriet was always cheery; ready with sensible advice; loyal and generous to JOY, and was known as an avid reader.

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Harriet first joined JOY back in 2000 as a member before becoming a volunteer at the station in South Melbourne. Like many others who began at the front desk, Harriet soon found herself helping other presenters on air, and she co-presented Women on Waves with Anita Gibbons, helped out other shows like Queen of the Night, Detours and more recently Miss Chatelaine.

The JOY family has lost a much-loved and faithful member and volunteer.Harriet will be greatly missed by the people whose lives she touched and we hope her legacy and memory can live on both at JOY and at the Grove of Gratitude.

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Anne Hamilton

Anne Hamilton is an integral member of the JOY family and her enthusiasm, work ethic, integrity and devotion to JOY is enormous. Anne first came to JOY in 1998 and during her 23 years with us, she has been a reliable, friendly face for all who interact with JOY.

JOY had only been broadcasting for about five years when Anne realised that JOY needed organisation and structure in processes and procedures. Anne took on this opportunity and space to enthusiastically and passionately contribute in her quiet way for over 20 years to the development of JOY and the LGBTQIA+ community of Australia.

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Anne has been instrumental in providing energy, practical knowledge and application to document and implement policies and procedures. Across her time, Anne has taken care of routine matters like creation of ‘how-to’ manuals, standardised paper forms, position descriptions for staff, volunteer and Board roles, preparing organisation charts, and so on – all those little and big things which help make an emerging organisation run smoothly.

To this day, Anne is always ready to assist volunteers and the JOY Team with all their administration needs. Without her we would be lost and for her work, dedication and passion we are forever grateful. Thank you Anne.

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John Oliver

In 2001, John Oliver was awarded Life Membership – “Member number 1, John was the driving force behind getting JOY to air. At Midsumma 1992 John’s concept of a gay radio station took root and, with a small band of dedicated enthusiasts, he facilitated JOY’s first broadcast in December 1993.

His foresight, enthusiasm and efforts to break down barriers and foster communications for the LGBTQIA+ communities led to the station becoming an enduring part of the lesbian and gay communities of Melbourne and an example to other community broadcasters.”

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John truly believed that the magic of radio could provide a connection for those feeling isolated in 1980s Australia, as well as providing a discrete community contact for those people still in the closet.

John drew together a small group of passionate like-minded friends and volunteers and they set themselves a target of 10 months to set up and begin broadcasting. In February 1993, John submitted an application for a broadcast licence to the ABA – Australian Broadcasting Authority (now ACMA Australian Communications & Media Authority). This application resulted in a licence to a broadcast on 1 Dec 1993 World AIDS Day.

From humble beginning in a rented room above a hardware store in South Melbourne, via the great space of Level 9, 225 Bourke Street City, and now as JOY transitions to relocating to the Victorian Pride Centre in St Kilda.

So JOY became, tentatively at first in 1993, but then with confidence and now graduating to 21st Century technology for radio and office processes, and surviving the 2020 Covid lockdown by broadcasting continuously.

Thanks go to John Oliver (“Member Number 1”) for his foresight and for all who have supported the aims of JOY and made it the success it is today.

Prof. Jim Hyde

Jim Hyde, a Daylesford resident, was a tireless community leader, activist, and advocate for our PLHIV and LGBTI communities. At the time of his death in August 2018, Jim was an active and vigorous board member of Thorne Harbour Health. His almost 30-year involvement with the organisation was characterised by passion, intelligence, strategic insight, and a fierce commitment to the HIV and AIDS sector as well as the LGBTI community as a whole.

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Jim was a life member of the organisation and the General Manager of the then Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre from 1990 to 1994. He guided the organisation in its development from our modest premises in Collingwood to our relocation to Claremont Street in South Yarra, where we remained for 23 years. He was also at the helm in 1993 when the first Positive Living Centre opened on Acland Street in St Kilda. Jim was a founding member of the AIDS Council of South Australia and the South Australian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.

Jim held senior policy positions in both the New South Wales and Victorian Departments of Health, including serving as Victoria’s Director of Public Health where he brought his grassroots activism and community awareness to bear on matters of high level public policy.

Jim could be seen by some as provocative in his relentless pursuit of issues related to the health and wellbeing of LGBTI communities. He could be a fierce opponent and a formidable ally. Jim always said, “I try to contribute as best I can.” Through all his endeavours, he sought to make our community a safer, healthier, and more secure place.

Jim was involved at a Board level in the rebrand to Thorne Harbour Health as well as the eventual relocation to the Victorian Pride Centre and 200 Hoddle Street. Living locally just up the hill from TGG, Jim was also an advocate for growing the reach of THH to better engage with LGBTI and PLHIV community members living in regional and rural Victoria.

Deborah Gillies

Deborah Gillies was co-founder, (together with Bev Greet) of Positive Women in 1988. Deborah was a trailblazer, being publicly open about being HIV positive was difficult for anybody at that time but it was particularly difficult for women because of their relative invisibility in the epidemic to that time and the lack of peer support or understanding of their specific issues and needs.

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In 1989 Deborah worked on a project auspiced by the Victorian AIDS Council (now Thorne Harbour Health) which was to produce a much acclaimed video and booklet resource, ‘Positive Women: Women with HIV and AIDS Speak Out.’

Deborah was particularly concerned about the needs of isolated positive women, and she considered this to be the main purpose of her work. She was an inspiration to many positive women to become involved in the organisation and her intelligence and geniality made her a popular figure with many in the broader HIV community. Deborah Gillies died in April 1994.

Trevor Williams

Trevor was a devoted ally to both the LGBTI community and people living with HIV. He is remembered for both his cheeky sense of humour and his unwavering love for his family, including his brother David. While many in our community are aware of the David Williams Fund and the suite of financial services if offers people living with HIV, not everyone may be aware of the service’s origin in 1986.

It was on David’s deathbed in 1986 that he asked his brother Trevor to start a fund to assist people living with HIV and AIDS. That fund started modestly at David’s wake with an original contribution of $1000.

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The Red Ribbon Appeal, Northside Bizarre and MAC Cosmetics have made significant contributions to the fund over the years but without Trevor’s original passionate commitment to his brother’s wishes, the fund would not have flourished as it did.

Trevor and his family were staunch advocates for the HIV Positive and LGBTI communities seeking to raise both awareness and funds for the assistance scheme named in honour of his brother.  He was an early and proud member of the then Victorian AIDS Council, now Thorne Harbour Health. Over the years his work saw the fund grow to become a unique assistance scheme that literally helped several thousands of people with HIV. Trevor sat on the DWF Committee which oversaw the management and disbursement of funds. This continued until he retired form that role in 2014, after 30 years of service. However, Trevor never retied from his advocacy for the HIV positive community. As the longest serving volunteer in the history of the AIDS Council, he was a determined and passionate man in his vocal support for tolerance and understanding of diversity within the community. This continued until his death in 2019.

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Nan McGregor

In 1998, Nan (then President of PFLAG Victoria) worked with others to create underage discos for lesbian and gay youth, in response to her underage gay son not having a place to do so.

Sending black and white flyers to schools and youth services across Victoria, it was hoped 30 young people would attend the first disco, instead 60 young people arrived!

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After the event, 2 boys who attended the same outer suburban school (neither previously knew each other was gay), wrote in to say how happy they were to find another gay person their age, and how life-changing the friendship was.

This vision and belief that all LGBTQIA+ young people deserve a space to belong formed the premise for Minus18 underage events (1998 – 2010) and the subsequent charity, the Minus18 Foundation (2011 – present), now supporting hundreds of thousands of people each year across Australia.

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