After almost nine years at the helm of the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC) – and a longer history of volunteering for the organisation – executive director Paul Martin (pictured) announced his intention to resign from his position earlier this month.
In a statement released to announce new additions to QAHC’s managerial board, Martin’s departure was a somewhat buried headline, with only a few sentences appearing at the end of the release.
Martin has been praised for always remaining behind-the-scenes of many community groups and initiatives, preferring that the attention be given to others.
LGBTI rights advocate Phil Browne lauded Martin’s approach and work in two roles that the pair shared, and said that Martin was a great source of knowledge and experience for him and others.
“As a former casual staff member at Healthy Communities, I have seen his strong community-driven leadership of an LGBT health promotion agency,” Browne told the Star Observer.
“As an advocate, I see some of the vast advocacy Paul has done for many years behind the scenes of multiple advocacy groups. I have learnt a lot about advocacy work from Paul and other advocates ahead of me, and I have great respect for him.”
QAHC President Joanne Leamy praised Martin for how he led the organisation after it was defunded by the state government last year.
“Paul has remained fully committed to supporting the 22 staff who were made redundant and the remaining staff. He has at all times remained calm and professional,” Leamy said.
“In particular, Paul has continued to shine a light on the importance of meaningful involvement and consultation with the communities affected by HIV, and continued to work on issues that foster stigma and discrimination for the wider LGBT community.
“We will be very sorry to see Paul Martin leave QAHC.”
Brisbane Pride Festival President Deeje Hancock said that Martin’s legacy would leave a significant mark on the community.
“Paul has brought a wealth of knowledge and resources to our community for which we should all be grateful… consistently and tirelessly championing the improved health of our community. His departure will leave a noticeable void,” Hancock said.
Four new board members were announced to help guide the organisation. The new board members include the new treasurer and compliance manager, Charles Hammersia, Northern Region member public health specialist Christopher Cliffe and two general board members, law lecturer Peter Black and media strategist Patrick MacDonald.
Leamy said that QAHC was overwhelmed by the calibre of applicants for the board positions, which became vacant due to retiring members.
“The board had a difficult job in selecting just four people among the many skilled and experienced people who offered to become involved,” Leamy said.
“Our volunteers, staff, donors and supporters have really stood by us this past year and enabled us to continue to serve LGBT Queenslanders, despite the challenges.”