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Memories of Colony 47 


By Sandy Clinton 

I applied for a position on the youth employment program at Colony 47 in 1979. I had only recently moved to Hobart and didn’t have a typewriter, so had to handwrite the covering letter. According to Marg Rushton (I later learned) she retrieved my application from the bin 3 times and argued with Jim until he agreed to give me an interview. He thought anybody with handwriting sloping backward was suspicious, she thought someone with a Social Work degree should have had better judgement (I think left handers shouldn’t be discriminated against 🙂 ) 

I remember Colony 47 as a place of high, sometime unpredictable energy. It was a safe haven for so many people who were doing it tough: single mums, people struggling with literacy or mental health issues, homelessness, unemployed, parents of children with disabilities or gay and unsupported. Nobody was turned away, we always tried to help, either with a Colony service or by connecting them to other community agencies. Colony 47 was a family environment for those who had lost touch with their own families; a place where they could eat, socialise, learn to be heard and valued. Despite these challenges, there was a lot of fun and laughter and often Jim was the centre of it. 

Behind the scenes, a lot of time was spent seeking out funding opportunities, attending meetings to rally support and writing endless submissions for financial support. Jim taught me the first rule of submission writing that I’ve never forgotten: Always ask for more that you expect to get (sometimes you get lucky!)

At the time I didn’t really understand the political climate and how it affected the social services sector, but I believe he was adept at this side of things and skilfully navigated his way through some very complex negotiations. He also managed his relationship with the Church in a way that meant Colony 47 survived and eventually thrived, despite many not being in favour of his unorthodox “Parish”. 

My time with Colony 47 (3 years) had a huge impact on the rest of my life. I went on to complete a Diploma in Social Work, and most of my work since then has involved empowering people to live their best life. I feel privileged to have worked with all the wonderful staff, volunteers and donors who supported Colony 47.

Jim and Marg were an inspiration to us all, living out their Christian values in a loving and practical way. It is so wonderful that Colony 47 is still operating all these years later, and I wish all involved the very best with their ongoing efforts to make a difference in the world. 

Sandy Clinton 

February 2023 

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