IMAGINE my surprise on seeing a phone message to ring the Governor of Western Australia, His Excellency Mr Malcolm McCusker AC! I returned his call with excitement and a touch of trepidation. But it was a marvellous phone call because, to my astonishment, I learned that His Excellency and Mrs Tonya McCusker had selected me as only the second recipient of the Governorâs Giving Award. I was bowled over! It is such an honour and it came totally âout of the blueâ but a very nice âblueâ I must say. I had been selected to choose the charity or charities that would between them receive $100,000.
I thought long and hard with a very long âshort listâ of aims, all of which I trust I have met! My choices reflect the philosophy âgive a person food and they eat for the day; teach them to farm and they feed their family and community foreverâ. I therefore suggested that the funds so generously given would be committed to educational needs that will serve our Western Australian community. My choices, I believe, address issues central to our social, environmental and cultural future both in the short and longer term. Most importantly, I want to leave a legacy and one on which we and others can build.
I suggested two awards each of $50,000. One is to the Oats Street rehabilitation centre for people with brain injury run by Dr Penny Flett, CEO of Brightwater: for a PhD scholarship to study neuroplasticity related to therapies at the Oats Street Facility. The facility does amazing, world-leading work, to truly transform lives of those who have suffered from acquired brain damage, irrespective of its cause, but including trauma, substance abuse and stroke. Many victims are young and all face a bleak future often devoid of hope, dignity or purpose. Through a carefully sculpted program, designed for each individual, many participants of the program graduate to live independent lives and become able to contribute to society. But more science can only improve the outcome for the clients and thatâs why the PhD scholarship will be a big help.
The second awardee is to be The Western Australian Museum Foundation. As with all good museums, the Western Australian Museum is a time machine. It examines the past: to reflect, to rejoice about the good parts and to regret the not so good. It addresses the present: to explain, to explore and to educate. It looks to help us shape our future: to predict, to plan and to prioritise. It is about what we were, what we are and what we aspire to be. That is why I believe our museum is such a vital part of our society.
And one of its key functions is education. The funds will support secondary and tertiary students to undertake projects at any of the Museum sites. They are especially for those who might not normally be offered such an experience nor have the resources to do so. The students might work on the biology, terrestrial or marine, undertaking field work and matching this with world class molecular biology; another possibility would be palaeontology, or the archaeology of human history in Western Australia; or the study of the composition of meteorites, comets or even rock from Mars. This work could complement that of our scientists taking part in the amazing Square Kilometre Array project.
Thank you, Your Excellency for such an opportunity and I do hope you approve of my choices.