New life members

Life Memberships: A rare event at the Evatt Foundation
Christopher Sheil

The executive committee is delighted to present Life Memberships of the Evatt Foundation to Jeannette McHugh and Bruce Childs, in recognition and appreciation of their outstanding contribution over many years in support of the Foundation’s mission to uphold the highest ideals of the labour movement.

The motion to award the Life Memberships was carried unanimously by the other current executive members, all of whom participated in the vote.

This is a rare event. Over the 37-year history of the Evatt Foundation, only eight Life Memberships have been awarded, the others being presented to Sir Richard Kirby, Cliff Dolan, Faith Bandler, Elizabeth Evatt, Rosalind Carrodus, John Burton, Professor Ted Wheelwright, and the Hon. Tom Uren.

There is no need to recite the reasons for the awards to anyone familiar with the history of the Evatt Foundation. Jeannette and Bruce’s membership of the executive pre-dates mine, but over the 14 years that I can personally speak of, I know of nobody whose contribution remotely approaches that of these two people.

For the record, Jeannette has been an executive member since 1996, some 20 years, including serving for six years as the Secretary of the Foundation, from 2000 to 2006. Bruce has been an executive member since 1998, some eighteen years, including eight years as President, from 1998 to 2006.

Executive members contribute to the life of the Foundation in all sorts of ways, and had Jeannette and Bruce done nothing besides bring their wonderful reputations within the labour movement to Evatt, it would have been reason enough for us to be grateful. But they have done more, very much more, notably including guiding and managing the organisation during the vulnerable period of transition from when Evatt received an annual federal government grant to the self-sustaining institution that it has been over the last 16 years.

Whether it be running meetings, stuffing envelopes, physically moving the offices, organising speakers, housing our archives, hosting dinners and fundraisers, facilitating or proofreading our publications, issuing wise cautions over one direction or leading the charge in another, Jeannette and Bruce have been at the centre of the Evatt Foundation for two decades. It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s impossible to imagine that there would be an Evatt Foundation today without the leadership, labour, generosity and inspiration of Jeannette and Bruce.

I’m therefore delighted to be able to recognise their contributions by presenting them with Life Memberships. As far as I'm concerned, it’s the least we can do.


Remarks by the current President of the Evatt Foundation, Christopher Sheil, on presenting Life Memberships to Jeannette McHugh and Bruce Childs at the AGM held at the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney, 29 November 2016.