By Josh Low
The Australia Day 2018 Honours List saw the announcement of 895 awards nationwide in recognition for contributions and service to fellow citizens in Australia and internationally.
Perth local John Collins was among the award recipients, receiving the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his service to the community of Manning and to local government.
He recently sat down with The eRecord to talk about the award, his work and what lay behind the drive to serve the community.
Having lived in the City of South Perth for more than 50 years, his involvement in the community began at St Pius Primary – where his nine children had attended over the years – as Chairperson of the School Board.
He has also been involved with the St Vincent de Paul Society and Lions Club of Manning, and been a former Mayor of South Perth, past vice-president of Manning Senior Citizens Centre, short term Chairperson of the Shopfront, past member of Perth Zoo’s Zoological Parks Authority Board, recent Chairman of the Parish Council of St Pius X, Manning and helped establish the Manning Men’s Shed.
Despite all his achievements, Mr Collins admitted that he had in fact been surprised by the reception of the Medal of the Order of Australia, adding that he could not take all the credit.
“I’d already received life membership granted to me by two organisations I’ve been involved with over the years, so I was surprised when I first heard I was awarded the OAM.
“I certainly felt honoured but I felt that everything I’ve achieved in the various organisation over the years was because I’d been working together with some wonderful people.
“Without them, I would not have had the opportunity to have all the involvement or achievements,” he said.
Reflecting on service, Mr Collins added that two particular role models stuck out in his mind.
“I met a 20 year old girl visiting Royal Perth Hospital in 1957 who provided interaction with seriously ill patients, one of which was my brother,” he said.
That girl later became his wife, with this year being the 60th anniversary of their wedding.
“Ever since we met, her constant selfless attitude and her involvement in continuity of community service (which also resulted in being awarded Volunteer Citizen of the Year of the City of South Perth’s Council in 2016) has been a great source of inspiration to me,” Mr Collins said.
The other source of inspiration, Mr Collins said, was the saint popularly known as the Little Flower, St Therese of Liseux.
A highly influential model of sanctity for many because of her simple and practical approach to life, St Therese was inspired by the Gospel to place love at the centre of everything.
Mr Collins explained that it was this love for others and for the common good that lay that at the heart of his efforts in service to the community.
“The great St Therese of Liseux was one who I had a great affinity toward, and from a faith perspective, she that would’ve been my absolute role model,” he said.
“My Catholic faith has played a fundamental role in the work I’ve been involved in. Without the theme of love for our fellow man, volunteer community service wouldn’t exist.
“That is what volunteer service is all about. It’s about giving and not counting the cost.
“I’ve found that giving your time and expertise when it’s needed for free is the most rewarding experience in life you may have,” he said.
“What I think is important though, is the giving of time and expertise when it is needed, and not only when it’s at our own convenience.”