A Classmate Recognised

Taken from Canberra Refugee Support webpage:

The 2016 Canberra Refugee Support Fundraising Dinner was held at The Hellenic Club in Phillip on Thursday 20 October. Once again, the Hellenic Club provided a terrific venue, with efficient and courteous service and delicious food. This is more than a club: worth making the effort to visit.

The evening started with a formal farewell to the President of Canberra Refugee Support, Geoff McPherson, AM, who stepped down in September after 15 years in the role. The current President, Doug Hynd, also a long term member of CRS, read out excerpts from letters from Senator Katy Gallagher and Thomas Albrecht, Regional Representative of the UNHCR, recognising and praising his significant contribution to the settlement of refugees and asylum seekers in Canberra. Cathy Ragless, the Director of Companion House, talked of her relationship with Geoff as they worked together to achieve common goals. She wryly noted that they had different approaches initially that developed into a constructive working relationship, but stressed his ‘vision’ that has resulted in several significant programs: amongst them the Calvary Hospital Mentoring program, the annual CRS Scholarships presentation and, probably most significant, the Asylum Seeker Access Card, which has allowed new arrivals in our community to obtain appropriate services with a minimum of fuss. Appropriately, given his role in having this card approved by a sympathetic ACT government, Nick Manikis, from the ACT Government’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, presented Geoff with a framed certificate of appreciation from the Department, and spoke of his long, fruitful association with Geoff. He echoed the thoughts of many in the audience when he spoke of the way Geoff was able to get agreement, often without you realising that you’d agreed to him! The unwavering support through all these years of Geoff’s wife Elizabeth, and his family, was also recognised. Geoff responded briefly and acknowledged the unwavering support of the members of the CRS organisation, the other support groups in the territory, the ACT government and importantly, the people of Canberra. He also thanked Elizabeth and his family and for their support, that enabled him to be there when asylum seekers and refugees need a neighbourly hand.


A lovely finale was the performance of two rappa songs by his grandchildren with lyrics echoing the plight and hopes of asylum seekers and refugees.

Doug Hynd announced that in recognition of Geoff’s contribution over more than 15 years to recognise and support refugees in Canberra that the annual scholarship presentation was to be renamed ‘The Geoff McPherson CRS Scholarship Presentation’.

Added note: As well as his recent appointment as a Member of the Order of Australia, Geoff was also named as Canberra Citizen of the Year in 2004 for his unstinting work supporting asylum seekers and refugees.

2 thoughts on “A Classmate Recognised

  1. Well done Geoff. A real quiet achiever – you’ve shunned the spotlight and publicity and just got on with serving a cause to which you have been committed for a long time. Glad to see you recognized.


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