Islander Extraordinaire

By Neil Wilson

bribie island extraordinary people

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Tags: Bribie Island Lions-Rotary Queensland


As are many others, the Bribie Island community is blessed with several organisations that are constantly working hard to support both local and distant causes and with this in mind, I wonder just how often people take the time to consider the members of those organisations who give up their time to achieve the goals that the organisation aims to achieve or does everyone just think, “the Lions do a good job or, that was good of Rotary to do that.”

Featured Image(top): Anne, Michael and Tim back in 1981

Yes, that was good and it would not have been achieved if it were not for members like the Islander Extraordinaire for April, Rotary Club Secretary, Anne Mathews. Anne was born in Melbourne and spent the first seven years of her life in the Victorian town of Wonthaggi before her father moved the family to Melbourne in 1956.

Her mother Margaret was a triple certificate nurse and also an accomplished pianist who gained an Associate Diploma in music at the age of sixteen. Anne’s dad Theodore was a pharmacist and decorated war hero who had won the Military Cross for his bravery on the battlefield during World War II and, as well as being a Rat of Tobruk, served in every major campaign in that war.

After two years in Melbourne, Theodore and his family relocated to Canberra where he took up employment as a pharmacy inspector for the Department of Health and the Australian Capital would be where Anne was to not only complete her schooling but where she would spend the next fifty-five years.

Anne tells of how, as a teenager who enjoyed her involvement with the church, she spent some of her time after school helping others. ‘I was president of the church’s Legion of Mary and after school, I either taught Catechism or helped out mothers with large families,’ said Anne. ‘This usually involved bringing in and folding the washing or getting dinner ready,’ she explained.

Anne also said that she used to attend the dances that were held by the church youth club but did not enjoy them. ‘I hated the local dance because my father was one of the chaperones,’ Anne recalled. Her schooling behind her and refreshed after an enjoyable summer, Anne entered the workforce in 1968 as an employee of the Commonwealth Bank and an agreement to go on a date to see the movie “To Sir with Love” with fellow employee Michael Mathews in 1969 would result in the couple marrying in January 1971.

Three years further on, Anne became the first woman in the ACT to be promoted to a management position which Anne told me was rather a notable achievement due to her employer not even adopting the 1968 ruling that allowed married women to work until 1970. Now married and living in their own home which they built in 1972, Anne and Michael were faced with the possibility of being a childless couple until, after Anne was diagnosed with a pituitary tumour and underwent experimental treatment with the drug, Paradol.

After two miscarriages, their son Tim was conceived and Anne explained that this pregnancy was successful only because she went to bed at five weeks into the pregnancy and stayed there until sixteen weeks. Tim was born in June 1979 and Anne became a stay at home mum, taking on the role of auditor for the Regional Nursing Mother’s Association and becoming an active member of the local support group. Anne and Michael made the decision, after two more miscarriages, to give up trying for more children and be thankful for Tim who Anne describes as their “Miracle Boy.”

A change in direction regarding employment resulted in working part-time at the Supreme Court Library and, due to enjoying the work, she completed several units of a TAFE Library Technicians Course. The next period of time in her life was a sad and very difficult time when her mother lost her battle with leukaemia and passed away in December 1982. Anne’s dad Theodore became Tim’s carer, taking him to the local pre-school for the next two years and apparently continuing to go there until 1993, becoming Grandpa Theo to all the kids.

bribie island extraordinary people

The 2017 Model United Nations Assembly team that represented Jordan were Lexie
Waddell-Bajor and Dakoda Titmus from BISHS. Anne is seen here with the Ambassador of
the Kingdom of Jordan, Mr Ali Kraishan

As these things do, Anne’s part-time position evolved into a full-time job in the Law Courts Library and after a time in Courts Administration, a promotion to Clerk of the Magistrates Court which Anne describes as a statutory appointment by the Attorney General. It seems that this involvement with all things legal was all that was needed for Anne to realise where her career was heading and in 1989 she successfully applied for a position with the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence as an Assistant Administration Officer.

‘What a career change and an eye opener this was for me,’ Anne exclaimed. ‘I went from being used to open counters and customer contact to someone who worked behind locked doors and had to keep my work location a secret,’ she added. A part of this new position involved introducing policies and guidelines which she then had to enforce on police personnel who Anne says did not like civilians telling them what to do.

During her time at the ABCI, Anne achieved so much and unfortunately, I do not have the necessary space to accurately describe all the good work that she did. However, as an indication, as well as establishing the National Missing Persons Register, being promoted to Administration Officer, responsible for the production of the financial statements and annual report she was also the Agency Security Advisor which required her to hold a top secret security clearance.

Anne says that the highlight of her time there was being on the selection panel to choose a new director. Anne earned an Australia Day Award in 1997 for her work in seconding police to the ABCI. Finding the need to increase her knowledge in areas that would better equip her to carry out her role in the workplace, Anne commenced part-time studies at the ANU, graduating in 1999 with majors in Sociology, Anthropology and Psychology.

She also studied in politics and one unit of Aboriginal studies and in 2001carried postgraduate studies in Counselling Processes. The decision to undertake these studies was to pay dividends within a very short period of time when, after the ABCI and other national crime-fighting organisations all being replaced by the Australian Crime Commission at the beginning of 2003 and Anne taking on the role of Human Resources Manager.

According to Anne, this was the most hectic period of her life, attending meetings in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth. Her role at the ACC required that she produce the first Certified Agreement and Anne feels that this was her greatest achievement there, attending many heated meetings between management, staff and unions and finally getting it approved by the Industrial Relations Court in December 2003.

bribie island extraordinary people

Michael, Anne and Tim in more recent times with their much loved golden labrador Archie

Her dedication to achieving success in this task was to result in her being the recipient of a second Australia Day Award. Two years later, Anne Mathews retired from her position with the Australian Crime Commission after achieving perhaps twice as much in her career as some people do in their whole life. Everyone knows just how cold the winter in Canberra can be so it came as no surprise to me when Anne said that she and Michael had regularly holidayed on the Sunshine Coast for many years and had bought a block of land on Bribie Island. ‘In 2013, the ACT Chief Minister presented me with a certificate which was in recognition of my fifty-five years of commitment to the ACT,’ said Anne.

‘Little did she know that we were moving to our new house on Bribie Island the following week,’ she said with a grin. Once Anne and Michael had settled into their new environment, Anne was keen to be involved in her community and she told me that she really wanted something to do that would be a way of giving back to society.

This desire was to result, after a suggestion by her cousin, in her joining Rotary and, due to her obvious commitment to everything that she becomes involved in, one year later Anne was named as Rotarian of the Year. Also, Anne joined the Board of Directors and became Youth Director. ‘I have become very passionate about Rotary and it’s worldwide causes and I am particularly interested in the youth programs,’ Anne told me. ‘For the past two years I have escorted a debating team of two students from the Bribie Island High School to participate in the Model Uniting Nations Assembly which is held in the old Parliament House in Canberra and I arranged for the students to meet the ambassadors from the country that they represented,’ she said.

On International Women’s Day in 2015, the Rotary Club of Bribie Island held it’s first High Tea and Fashion Parade and no prizes for correctly guessing the name of the event organiser, yes, of course, it was Anne Mathews. ‘Each year we have raised close to $2,000 at this event including when we held our fourth annual High Tea this year on March 4th,’ Anne commented. “

I also enjoyed being able to help Bill Peacock organise a lunch and fashion parade on December 3rd in 2016 as a celebration of International Day of People with Disability,’ she told me. In her resume, Anne describes herself as a highly effective communicator who excels at building relationships and, after spending some time chatting with her, both in an interview and then when we both attended a community function, my assessment of that statement is that never a more accurate description has ever been said.

Anne Mathews can best be described as a truly extraordinary woman who is dedicated to making a welcome difference to any situation that she sees as needing improvement.

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A highly successful sales and leadership career working in a number of different and very competitive industries. Engaging with decision makers at all levels in business and government. Three decades employed by corporations, SME businesses in senior roles and almost twelve years operating as a freelance contractor has equipped me well for all aspects of business. Whether leading and mentoring sales teams, or in a direct sales role I enjoy the challenge to meet and exceed expectations. Making a real and tangible difference in either a team environment or as an individual is an important personal goal I have consistently achieved throughout my career. In all of my business and personal dealings over the years there is one issue that stands out above all others - communication. Excellent communication skills creates trust, helps with mutually beneficial outcomes and above all cements long lasting positive relationships. I strive everyday to communicate effectively with the people I encounter.