Magazine article Impact

Farewell to Executive Director Andrew Johnson

Magazine article Impact

Farewell to Executive Director Andrew Johnson

Article excerpt

Oooroo Andrew.

Reflecting on the combination wake and celebrations ACOSS conducted to farewell Andrew Johnson, ACOSS Executive Director, it is with a tinge of sadness that I ponder the implications of Andrew's departure for many of the people in the ACOSS family. In addition to the enormous contribution Andrew has made for over the past three and a half years to the work of ACOSS and to the organisation itself, he also established respectful and very supportive personal relationships with many of us--which will continue at a distance, but which inevitably won't be quite the same.

Those of us lucky enough to have come to know Andrew well admire and stand in awe of his passion for our work and for improving the lives and circumstances of people on low incomes and enduring various forms of disadvantage. He approached the role of Executive Director in a way which can best be described as clever, innovative, committed, tireless, compassionate and inspiring. Andrew's commitment to ACOSS has left the organisation in the best possible shape for the challenges that ACOSS faces in the short, medium and longer term.

Andrew's strong leadership brought the network together to deal with the second wave of welfare to work reform as a very early challenge in his term of office. He masterfully coordinated Advocacy Days to muster the influence of the sector to best effect even though the Government had secured the numbers in the Senate which meant securing change was more difficult than it had been for many years.

Andrew and the ACOSS team then went on to develop the incredibly successful Australia Fair campaign--an entirely new way for ACOSS to engage with the sector, the Australian public and the Government to encourage them to explore and understand the nature and dimensions of inequality and to build popular support for the need for things to change. The choice of the Australia Fair thong as the symbol of the campaign was another master stroke on Andrew's part. The then Acting Prime Minister, the Hon. Julia Gillard MP, paid a fitting tribute to Australia Fair advocacy in her speech to the recent ACOSS Conference in April this year.

In the dark days of the announcement and the passage through Federal Parliament of the Northern Territory Intervention legislation, Andrew coordinated, with the ACOSS team, behind the scenes support for Indigenous organisations and the sector to present a strong, cohesive and united front to the Government and the media about the need for respectful engagement, proper consultation and the development of real and lasting solutions to entrenched Indigenous poverty and disadvantage. …

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