On Sunday 7th May at the Open Day of the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre ECU Honorary Professor Glen Phillips was presented with a Community Service Award commemorating 32 years of dedicated service to the Centre. On behalf of the Minister for Volunteering, Hon Mick Murray MLA, Jennifer Matthews (Director General of the Department of Local Government and Communities) stated that the award recognised Glen’s extraordinary and significant commitment made as a volunteer to building the spirit, creativity and resilience of the community.
Glen Phillips and Tabetha Beggs, Sunday 7 May 2017
Current Chairperson of the KSP Writers Centre, Tabatha Beggs, reminded the Open Day audience that it was Glen who had written back in 1984 to the then Minister for the Environment to acquire the former home of Australia’s first great international novelist, Katharine Susannah Prichard. It was to be ‘for a community arts venue which would be the envy of other states and indeed be admired by other countries.’ Tabatha also stated that Glen became the Centre’s inaugural Chairperson at the first official Committee Meeting on 14 August 1985. Since then he has many times served as their Chair or Vice-Chair and in several other capacities and was a long-time representative of the Centre on the Board of writingWA. These days he is a member of the KSP Literary Advisory Board and is the Centre’s official Patron. Glen provides the opening address at the KSP Annual Open Day and at the celebration of Katharine’s Birthday’ each year. One of the Writers’ Studios in the Centre’s grounds is named after him. She concluded by saying:
We on the Board are constantly amazed by Glen’s output as a poet, publishing multiple books each year and presenting papers at international conferences … He is also a proud advocate in preserving the memory of Katharine Susannah Prichard, giving talks about her legacy as a renowned but often controversial West Australian author.
As a member of ECU’s School of Arts and Humanities, Glen also has served as it representative on the Management Committee of the Peter Cowan Writers Centre since it was established in 1995 in conjunction with ECU’s Joondalup Campus. The Centre was later located in the reconstructed Edith Cowan House with the blessing of Peter Cowan, himself recipient of the first honorary doctorate conferred by ECU.
Back in the mid-1960s while a lecturer in English and Writing at Graylands Teachers College (formerly part of the group of colleges which became ECU) Glen contacted the Fellowship of Australian Writers in nearby Swanbourne. The FAW occupied Tom Collins House, the original WA home of famed Australian novelist Joseph Furphy. It was close to the Graylands College campus and Glen arranged for his writing students to visit this historic house adopting the writing name of Joseph Furphy, Tom Collins. Glen was invited to join the FAW executive and later became its long-serving President and ultimately FAW National President. Glen maintained his volunteer service to Tom Collins House via its executive committee until his retirement from active teaching in 2001.
It could be said, therefore, that his Volunteer Service Award on Sunday 7th May at the beginning of WA’s Volunteer Week could be extended to the other two Writers Centres with which he has been associated for so many years. In his current capacity of Director of the International Centre for Landscape and Language within the School of Arts and Humanities at ECU he says he intends to continue to provide a link between the Writers Centres and the writing students of Edith Cowan University. In the past many students have gone on to become members of these centres, even selected as Writers-in-Residence or serving in management of the centres. It was an ECU writing student, Trudy Graham, who was the founder of the Northern Writers Association which became the Peter Cowan Writers Centre today.