Louise Fisher and Peter Maher
Louise and Peter have been involved with The Pinnacle Foundation and have generously sponsored the Darryl Wild Scholarship since 2012. They have seen the first-hand impact that education, representation, support, and acceptance has on the lives of young LGBTIQ+ Australians.
Louise and Peter decided to fund the Darryl Wild Scholarship in honour of their late friend who was a bright light in their lives and to honour other young LGBTIQ+ Australians facing discrimination and alienation due to their gender identity or sexual preference. The Pinnacle Foundation relies on the generosity of donors such as Louise and Peter who have made the commitment to contribute financially on an ongoing basis.
Louise and Peter first became involved with The Pinnacle Foundation through their friendship with Susan Brooks, a close family friend and founding member of Pinnacle. “Susan introduced us to Pinnacle, and we are so grateful that she did because the cause resonates with us and it is an incredibly well-run and accountable organisation,” states Peter.
The Darryl Wild Scholarship was born from the couple’s close friendship with Darryl, and their witnessing of the challenges, discrimination and obstacles faced by Darryl due to his sexual preference. “I first employed Darryl as a young graduate in the mid-80s and what struck me was how talented he was. Darryl faced incredible prejudice that he had to fight against daily. Darryl was a young gay man and in those days being part of the LGBTIQ+ community was not something which was accepted with equanimity by our society, and by his own family growing up,” recalls Peter.
Louise and Peter welcomed Darryl into their family, he was the godfather to their son, a close friend and someone who made a long-lasting impact in their lives. The couple remained aware of the challenges that Darryl faced, and upon his passing they wanted to honour Darryl’s legacy with a named scholarship, “The scholarship is named after somebody who was very talented. Darryl was somebody who was larger than life and somebody who embraced life, but who understood and experienced first-hand what the prejudice felt like as part of their growth path. I think Darryl would be looking down with pride on the scholarships that have provided some support to others who have experienced the same issues,” says Peter.
“I really love the far-sightedness of educating young people from the LGBTIQ+ community so that they have a more competent voice and are able to better represent their community on a wider platform. This approach makes so much sense, as Pinnacle not only helps the individual, but also places them in a position in the community where they have the support around them and the education that will equip them to continue the fight for acceptance and equal rights for those who are presenting differently to the hegemonic group,” states Louise.
Both Louise and Peter were drawn to the multiplier effect that is the model that The Pinnacle Foundation is based on. “I love the mentoring aspect of the scholarship. All the scholars who have been recipients of the Darryl Wild Scholarship that we have met absolutely love their mentor. What a wonderful opportunity for young people to connect with industry and community leaders. These connections can be life-changing for the scholars as they are being linked with people who are not only successful in their chosen career paths but have also faced the challenges that the scholars may have faced. This relatability, and example of overcoming barriers and obstacles, can provide such hope for young people who may have a hard time seeing the richness that life can offer,” says Louise.
Much like Darryl, young people from the LGBTIQ+ community in Australia continue to face many challenges due to their sexuality, and gender identity. “I work as a clinical psychologist and have seen some of the prejudice and discrimination that people from this community face. I have also seen the impact on personality structure experienced by people who, for example, come from a family where they are not unconditionally accepted. I have seen how much work is needed to undo the effects that judgement, shaming and other harmful attitudes can have on that person’s long-term well-being,” says Louise. This behind the curtains look at the longitudinal effects that discrimination and marginalisation can have on individuals, as well as recognising the deep need for support that members of the LGBTIQ+ community face, is what inspires Louise and Peter to continue supporting The Pinnacle Foundation.
The humility and humanity displayed by our donors, patrons, partners, mentors, volunteers, and the wider Pinnacle family, who are made up of people from all walks of life, shows the support that is available for young LGBTIQ+ people in Australia. “It is very humbling to see the calibre of the people who choose to be involved with Pinnacle and their humanity. It is very gratifying to see industry and community leaders, such as the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, Alan Joyce AC and Fran Kelly, to name a few, demonstrate their willingness to build a community which is supportive and emotionally connected for young LGBTIQ+ people,” says Peter.
Both Louise and Peter agree that their wish for The Pinnacle Foundation is to see the work grow, expand and reach even wider sectors of the community. They would like to see young people, like Darryl Wild, feel supported and encouraged, knowing that there is a community of people who are so proud of them and cheering them on every step of the way.
A message from the Governor of Victoria (Patron-in-Chief of The Pinnacle Foundation): Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
On behalf of the people of Victoria, I extend my sincere condolences to His Majesty…