Recognised child literature advocate Susanne Gervay will take pride of place during celebrations in Tenterfield on Friday, January 26 as our official Australia Day ambassador.
A number of high-profile achievements pepper Ms Gervay’s bio including her narrative Days of Thailand being included in the anthology The Fear Factor, Terror Incognito along with David Malouf, Sir Salman Rushdie and Thomas Keneally, opening discourse on terrorism as a pathway to peace.
She was also the Australian contributor to another anthology Peace Story that features stories from 22 countries and is sponsored by the International Board On Books for Young and UNESCO. More international acclaim came from a jaunt to New York to speak at the World Burn Congress about her young adult novel Butterflies, recognised as Outstanding Youth Literature on Disability.
Close to the heart of parents everywhere is the theme embodied in her series of ‘Jack’ books, inspired by a serious bullying episode and other life experiences of her own son. The school bullying book has already been adapted into a play and the series is in development as a feature film to be directed by Nadia Tass.
A daughter of refugees herself, Ms Gervay’s acclaimed picture book Ships in the Field gives a voice to the children and parents of refugees and celebrates us all as Australians. Her books are widely-read and studied throughout Australian schools so younger Tenterfield residents may already be familiar with her work.
Ms Gervay received her OAM (Order of Australian Medal) for her work in children’s literature.
She said there are many experiences as an Australia Day Ambassador that she treasures.
“Who gets to talks to farmers and hear the challenges first hand of ‘drought and flooding plains’ in remote Wakool? Who shares a cappuccino and Martin Sharp’s artwork in the tiny rural town of Barraba?
“Who meets the indomitable Tiny Hall, who is tiny and an 80 plus dynamo – the great granddaughter of bushranger Ben Hall she proudly tells me? She drove her truck from Tamworth, slept with her faithful dog in a layby to get to the Australia Day ceremony and play the cornet in the brass band.
“Who welcomes an old scout master and young indigenous dancers; community leaders from all walks of life; the fabulous Rotary and Men’s Shed volunteers cooking up bacon and eggs for the morning ceremonies?
“Australia is diverse but we’re the same too, that spirit of ‘ave a go, join in in good and bad times and also, Australians love a party.”
She said as an Australia Day Ambassador she feels privileged to share her own story of diversity and hear the stories of the community she visits.
It will be Tenterfield Lions Club cooking the bacon and eggs for breakfast for Ms Gervay and others this Australia Day, from 8.15am down at Memorial Hall before Australia Day awardees are announced from 9am.