Paul Martin farewelled at Healthy Communities
After nearly nine years in the top job, Healthy Communities’ Paul Martin made one of his last speeches as executive director yesterday afternoon at a farewell organised by staff.
At an informal gathering at HC’s base in Helen Street, Teneriffe, attended by HC staff and community members, Martin reminisced about his time with the organisation he first joined as a volunteer in 1990.
“I have very much enjoyed my time here, there’s a lot to be proud of,” he said.
“I was the youth project officer when I was a young person – which seems a long, long time ago now. Then I moved to AFAO for a couple of years, then the UK, then came back to take over as general manager.”
Martin reminded the group that the organisation was formed “in extraordinary times” when gay men were dying from an unknown disease. “The front page of the Sun was calling for people to be killed because they were transmitting HIV and the community came together and formed an organisation that almost 30 years on is still here,” he said.
Martin said HC should remain true to its history, and that it was not “just another service provider”. “The challenge is not yet over. The gains that are made we’ve seen some of them can be easily taken away.”
Citing advances in aged care for LGBTI people, law reform around relationships recognition and rights, and referring obliquely to last year’s funding cuts, Martin said the community, himself and HC “won’t be defined by the decision of an individual person no matter how powerful he may be”.
“Myself and the board are safe in the knowledge that that one person does not represent the majority views of that party.”
Speaking on behalf of the board, Dion Tatow said Martin had the “enviable ability to present a calm demeanour while handling multiple tasks and issues”.
“In particular we value your commitment and dedication to the LGBTI community,” Tatow said.
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisation (AFAO) executive director Rob Lake said he brought thanks from the board and members of AFAO. “The leadership you’ve done around the country is significant for us. QAHC and Healthy Communities have always played an important role as part of AFAO.”
Former HC president Mark Morein thanked Martin for his work over the years. “One of the challenges for me as the chair of the organisation was balancing the different priorities that people have and I was always in absolute awe at Paul’s ability to do that,” Morein said.
“Even when I knew you were ready to kill someone because they were not willing to listen to the truth, you were always able to be incredibly polite towards them. I thank you enormously for that.”
Martin is leaving to take up a position with Brisbane Metro North Medicare Local. He's succeeded as executive director by John Mikelsons, who most recently was director of Youth Justice Capability and Learning with the Queensland Department of Justice.
IMAGE: Paul Martin says goodbye. Photo: Anthony Smith. More photos here.
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