Earlier this month, David Taylor, known to friends as Daisy, was awarded the ‘Australian of the Year – Local Hero’ in the Northern Territory. Quite an achievement for an openly gay man in a homeless mentor and arts advocate role for the mainstream community.
Daisy spoke to QNews about his award.
“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 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.”
Daisy the Knockabout Chef
“The nomination alone 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’. Over the past 6 years, I 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 to train 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.”
The Winston Churchill Fellowship
…and Daisy has won yet another major prestigious award – The Winston Churchill Fellowship. This research grant will allow him to travel to Singapore and the 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 that is more sustainable and less reliant on Government funding. The St Vincent de Paul Society program is now on hiatus until next year due to funding issues.
Daisy also writes food reviews for The Territorian 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!
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