Earlier this month, David Taylor, known to his friends as Daisy was awarded the ‘Australian of the Year – Local Hero’ in the Northern Territory. Quite an achievement in itself, and even more so for an openly gay man in a homeless mentor and arts advocate role for the mainstream community.
Daisy explained to QNews…
“As a ‘not so butch’ openly gay man working in a homeless men’s shelter, I’ve felt welcomed and accepted by almost all. On the few occasions where there was any hint of homophobia, (usually by new residents); it was quickly and bluntly stomped out by others. ‘Leave him alone or you won’t last long here’, I once overheard.
“I am an openly gay man on the wrong side of 50 living with my life partner of 17 years, Glenn, who is my support and taster of my food.”
“The nomination, let alone the award blew me away. None of us do this work for recognition or reward. I feel others were more deserving. I’ve been working at the St Vincent de Paul Society as the ‘Knockabout Chef’. For the past 6 years, cooked over 200 meals a day for Darwin’s homeless people, working out of a homeless men’s shelter. My clients are the homeless, at-risk youth, refugees, people with mental health and other life issues. My task is training them in commercial cookery while feeding the homeless with a pathway to employment and self-sufficiency.
“The issue of homelessness in both our and the mainstream community concerns and overwhelms me. It is far too big to solve on my own. I realised that the issue can be tackled one-by-one. It was quickly realised that our training program was to be more about preparing people, not food.
“I once said to a fellow, “Nice job, well done” his response was “no one ever told me that, I’m usually such a fuck-up”. So I encourage folk to realise how valuable they are, allowing them to shine and feel good about themselves.
“My reward is to see someone grow from feeling worthless, useless and unvalued to proud, strong and independent.”
…and Daisy has won yet another major prestigious award – The Winston Churchill Fellowship. This research grant will allow him to travel to Singapore and USA to study various models of social enterprises and culinary training for homeless people and those facing employment barriers.
Daisy’s future aspirations are to bring to Australia a refined homeless model which is more sustainable and less reliant on Government funding, as the St Vincent de Paul Society program is now in hiatus until next year due to funding issues.
Daisy also writes food reviews for our The Territorian’s Sunday paper. In his spare time he’s on the Board of ‘Tracks Dance Company’.
He’s quite the contributor to Darwin’s mainstream community at-large. It’s great to see him being recognised for the tremendous work that he does in the community!