Early Life

Gerry Georgatos’ early life included Marxist inklings but a predominant disposition that compassion belongs to everyone and by tapping into compassion we can urge humanity from its pathways to obvious calamities and to restored hope.  In his school years he was a rebellious thinker and despite a strong intellect was a non-conformist. At 9 years of age his IQ was measured twice, with the lower at 193. He is trilingual; English, Greek and Russian.

 

He rarely discusses his life and is an issue focused individual. “My life does not matter, no-one’s life matters in any sincere public interest discourse. What matters is the scheme of things it’s the whole picture we need to view and understand, not just a pixel, not just a tree in the forest. Everyone matters, we are collective, we are not individuals. No-one is larger than life. We need to turn away from the dangerous lie of the individual.” Gerry Georgatos.

 

Gerry Georgatos has campaigned for animal rights and liberation, prison reform, restorative justice, equality, ways forward from racism and he has championed the rights of the homeless and the most vulnerable. He has spent most of his life crafting outcomes and ways forward, even legislation from behind-the-scenes, however in recent years he has increasingly faced the media and publicly-led justice causes in order to expedite outcomes.

Foray into Journalism

Gerry Georgatos has won awards for his investigative journalism. He has published investigative reports with several publications, including the National Indigenous Times, the National Indigenous Radio Service and The Stringer. “I am not a journalist per se, rather a campaigner but I get my research and facts correct. I do not just depend on sources, insiders and whistleblowers. I more than just corroborate facts and premises; I go deeper, to the truth. Only the truth matters.  In doing this I ensure my contribution to justice and propriety,” Gerry Georgatos.

 

Gerry Georgatos is the recipient of ten national media awards for his journalism, including Journalist of the Year at the 2013 Multicultural and Indigenous Media Awards. He continues to write prolifically for The Stringer, a free online news publication. He does not earn anything from his contributions.

Human rights advocacy

In 2014, he was presented with an award for Courage and Commitment to Social Justice and Human Rights at the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards.

 

He founded World, Humanity, You (WHY) – 1990 to 1993.

 

In 2004, he founded Students Without Borders firstly at Murdoch University. During its time, Students Without Borders developed into the largest student volunteer organisation in the nation, with scores of community programs with social reach far and wide. Students Without Borders was recognised with numerous awards for student development outreach and community programs by the Australasian Campus Unions Managers Association (ACUMA). Students Without Borders was recognised at the 2008 Western Australian Department of Community Services Awards. Students Without Borders was a finalist in three of the eight categories, winning two of the categories.

 

As part of Students Without Borders, Georgatos established the Western Australia wide 8Ball recycling program, which during its time would become the largest recycler of computers in the nation. Gerry Georgatos while at Murdoch University became aware of a huge unmet need of students, particularly mature age students who were without computers. He also realised that a significant proportion were computer illiterate. So he drove the recycling program to meet the need. In addition he developed computer literacy programs. From 2004 to 2010, 55,000 refurbished computers were donated. Nearly 5,000 were donated to schools and communities in developing nations.

 

Gerry Georgatos who sat on the University’s Academic Council and Senate (Board) organised for student transcript merits for students who refurbished computers for the 8Ball program and also for students who volunteered and made significant contributions to Student Without Borders programs. Students Without Borders also included volunteers from the wider community.

 

“To the spirit of this organisation notions of social justice, community solidarity and activism are fundamental. Students Without Borders is the idea that education should be much more than what we learn in the class room, and much more than getting a piece of paper. It is about what we can learn from engaging with the world around us, and what we can give back to that world. Students Without Borders is about volunteerism and helping to make the world a better place,”

 – Claire Middlemas, 2008 Murdoch Guild President.

 

Gerry Georgatos was a former Education Vice President and Guild President of Murdoch University. He was the General Manager of the Murdoch University Student Guild from mid-2006 to Christmas 2009. Gerry Georgatos was appointed manager at the time student unions were entering Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU). However under his management he guided the Guild from a key financial concern to stability and saved jobs while at the same time improving working conditions and remuneration for his colleagues.

 

He was popular at Murdoch University but was often a polarising individual at the campus particularly during his time on the University Senate. “We were not put on this earth to misspend our days, what must be said should be said, what must be done should be strived for,” Gerry Georgatos.

 

He sat on the University’s peak academic planning body, Academic Council for 5 years to 2010 and for three years on the Senate (Board of Directors) to end 2009. His focus was access to education for the disadvantaged, student retention, student hardship relief and community development.

 

With Paddy Cullen, an OXFAM WA manager, they developed the Social Justice Centre at Murdoch University.

 

“I have a lot of students who email me every week saying they want to get involved … in making a difference, but they don’t know how. This centre is a great opportunity for local organisations to come together and to provide information on the work that they do, the issues that are facing the world at the moment, and how we can get involved as students.”

  • Vicky Edwards, Former SWB Administrator.

 

“Gerry has been an incredible force for positive change making a huge difference to student life at Murdoch and to thousands of people around the globe that have benefited through the work of Students Without Borders. Gerry has managed to make the plight of the world’s poor a major issue on campus, provided a means where students can make a contribution to a more equitable world through practical aid and through activism. Through the development of a Social Justice centre, Gerry is creating a lasting legacy and a bridge between the academic, political and practical justice which is a fantastic example to all other universities in Australia and around the world. Nelson Mandela said that ‘Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice.” Gerry has helped make those words a reality at Murdoch.”

Paddy Cullen, OXFAM.

 

Before departing Murdoch University, under Gerry Georgatos’ management he took sport and community development to new levels at the university (three campuses). He developed inter-social, inter-campus and inter-faculty sport. By the time he left Murdoch University ten per cent of the university’s students were involved in a sport. He re-introduced to the University sporting pennants. He increased the University’s intervarsity representation from its record of 15 students to 35 under his first year of management of the Guild which was responsible for sport and recreation. In the following years the intervarsity representation continued to increase,71 and then to 130 and in his last year to 201.

 

His proudest accomplishment was the increasing number of former prison inmates and homeless he was able to encourage into university and other various educational opportunities. Gerry Georgatos was a regular visitor to prisons where he spoke of the practical need for education and inspired many into education. He assisted many individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds through alternative pathways programs into education; changing lives. He assisted in their retention; developing and implementing substantive support programs. Gerry Georgatos developed student tutoring programs. Students who had achieved no less than a Distinction average in a recent unit of study were eligible to tutor new students. The student tutors were rewarded with merit mentions on their academic transcripts.

 

“There are few greater accomplishments I have enjoyed than in helping homeless individuals and former prison inmates into education, into accommodation, into jobs. The streets is a damaging experience, with sexual predation and various violence the reality of homelessness, With prison, from my experience in assisting people pre- and post-release it is my view that in general people come out of prison worse than when they went in,” Gerry Georgatos.

National Indigenous Times

Gerry Georgatos – courtesy of The National Indigenous Times – Sadly, I fear this is the last time I will be writing for The National Indigenous Times. This newspaper goes out of business, bundled out by litigation but as the noblest voice for First Peoples in the nation. We did not fade but were persecuted by malice because we chased down transgressors and transgressions in ways other media feared.

We brought to the fore voices which had until then remained unheard – from shanty towns around the nation, from the coalface, and from people burdened by injustices where prejudice and racism prohibited them their right to have their say.

I came to the National Indigenous Times in mid-2011 at the behest of its then Black Editor. I never earned any quid from the newspaper but only a small fee for my expenses. Some of us do some of our deeds in life for the sake of others. I was taught by my father, a man who never went to school, that in life there is nothing more meaningful than improving the lot of those who need a helping a hand, for standing up to injustice whether small or large scale.

The National Indigenous Times goes out with a bang and not a whimper. It goes out nobly. It did not fade or die. It was pushed out of business, its voice silenced because of litigation. Last week, National Indigenous Times columnist, Dr Marcus Woolombi Waters amply described everything that has been levelled at the newspaper which ultimately forced it into the hands of administrators.

Someone wrote to me there are those who complained about some of the reporting of the National Indigenous Times. Most certainly I agree and I believe there are those who have taken umbrage at some of the reports the newspaper published. However in my travels, in the last month since the announcement of the newspaper’s parent company being placed into voluntary administration, far too many have been saddened by the all too sudden demise of the most powerful voice for the downtrodden and marginalised among First Peoples.

We were not just a newspaper. We were social justice warriors. We fought battles and some we won for people long denied their justice.

My style of journalism was to not hold back, just like Woolombi Waters and to report all the facts, just like Geoff Bagnall but never to do any hatchet journalism or cheap low stake stories that any schmuck can do and that far too many journalists waste time on.

There should never be a monopoly of anything – monopoly politics or monopoly media. The demise of the National Indigenous is an erosion of what little semblance of democracy and freedom of speech we have.

As NITV’s Natalie Ahmat recently stated, the loss of the National Indigenous Times will be a huge loss to the landscape.
We changed lives for the better with outcomes achieved on Elcho Island, with our sustained coverage on the suicides crises, with stories that finished up with homeless families being housed, with so many good outcomes too many to list.

I am not interested in the ridiculous personal squabbles between previous editors with the newspaper who mischievously want to see an end to the newspaper which in real terms belonged to the people. This sort of behaviour repulses me. I am not interested in turf wars between competing media. This is rubbish low stakes behaviour. This is the type of deplorable behaviour that dishevels and tears apart rights struggles and noble advocacy. We should have all been on the same page but alas that was not to be. Personally, I reached out to all the players but some put their little near meaningless turf ahead of the cause, ahead of the big picture. However it must be said of our predecessors, however they wish to insist on viewing the outgoing crop of writers and staff of The National Indigenous Times, that in my view they gave their all to The National Indigenous Times, and broke powerful stories. One of their stories landed them a Walkley. I pay my respect to those past and present.

Someone said to us: “The National Indigenous Times goes out a warrior, undefeated but betrayed. The National Indigenous Times goes out standing tall and proud and many of us will remember the day The National Indigenous Times was killed. But none of you will ever be forgotten.”

To the Freedom Movement, I personally thank them for trying to save what they said was “the people’s voice”.

To my friends at the National Indigenous Times I say to them, “good on you for standing alongside what is right, for standing up in ways others do not, for fearing nothing.”

To the founders of the National Indigenous Times, John Rowsthorne and his wife, Beverley I thank them and acknowledge the investments they made over the last 15 years to set up a newspaper for First Peoples. They could have done something else with their money and not suffered as they have but they believed in giving First Peoples a voice, they believed what was being committed against First Peoples was just wrong. It would become hard work and in time consume them and leave them with nothing. But their profit was about giving First Peoples a voice in what was being committed against First Peoples. That was their motive behind the setting up of the newspaper and a legacy to their Aboriginal grandchildren.

There were many great contributors to the newspaper in the three and half years I was with them; most of them Black contributors. However I will foremost note the stalwart, Geoff Bagnall. Geoff arrived in Canberra some 17 years ago and has maintained a very strong and close relationship with the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Five years ago he would join the National Indigenous Times and bring his invaluable photojournalism and news stories. I have a deep admiration for Geoff. My other good friend at the newspaper is Dr Marcus Woolombi Waters. This incredibly decent man has an incredible story in overcoming personal adversities to reach dizzying heights that at his first light of day were not in the stars. His hard edged academically constructed editorial features became mandatory reading for many. My partner, Jenny Kaeshagen regards Woolombi “as the best Black writer in the nation.”

However, those whom I will remember most are the many people I wrote stories for and about, who we campaigned for, who we advocated for. I will also remember the many more people we were not able to tell their story because it was not humanly possible for us to do them all. We worked at pace to produce as many stories as fast as possible so as many souls as possible could be heard. I will never forget those who went unheard. We tried desperately to give voice to the voiceless.

The National Indigenous Times as I knew it did not fade or die but was noble to the end, as we all should be.