Father Bob Maguire Foundation CEO honoured with Australia Day award
Paul Brophy, CEO of the Father Bob Maguire Foundation, has been awarded a prestigious award in the 2024 Australia Day honours.
While humbled to receive a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), Mr Brophy, an East Melbourne resident, wasted no time in emphasising that his mission remained unchanged and there was still much work to be done.
“There’s a job to do … you’ve got to make people feel they’ve got a life worth living,” he said, noting the collective effort of the foundation’s volunteers helped make a difference to people’s lives.
“Our team is the community, that’s what it’s about for me.”
The OAM recognised Mr Brophy’s “service to aged welfare, and to the community”.
The award is bestowed upon an individual who has demonstrated an outstanding service or achievement.
Mr Brophy has been the CEO of the Father Bob Maguire Foundation since 2018, a not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to helping the disadvantaged through food relief, social inclusion, and advocacy programs at 204 Gladstone St, South Melbourne.
He continues to honour the legacy of the late Father Bob Maguire, a well-known and respected Catholic priest, who established the foundation in 2003.
Father Bob, who died aged 88 last April, was known for his wicked sense of humour and tireless efforts in leaving “no-one behind”.
Father Bob was posthumously made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his distinguished service to the community in the 2024 Australia Day honours.
“Everybody got the same treatment, there was nobody better than another,” Mr Brophy said.
“If we had a chap come to the office and he was in trouble with the law, he got the same treatment. He [Father Bob] treated people with respect and the dignity they deserved.”
Mr Brophy said he didn’t see himself as a CEO but as part of a team and lived by Father Bob’s efforts of promoting their services through the media.
I want promotion about what we do. Father Bob’s most recent phrase was care, commonsense, and compassion equal community not society. It’s about community.
“When people come in to get their food at our pantry, I want them to walk out with a happy mind; they’ll feel good about themselves and have a reason to get up in the morning.”
“You don’t do it for reward, you do it because you can help and that’s all it is.”
Mr Brophy, who was raised in Port Fairy, said his passion for helping others begun when he worked with the Brotherhood of Saint Laurence at the Sambell Lodge aged care facility, where he stayed for 27 years.
“It wasn’t a job, it’s almost like they’re your family.”
One of his successes was organising a “Celebration of Life Music and Dancing Events” for up to 20 aged care homes.
“It was great because I’m passionate about not having aged care people stuck with a tray table in front of them. Get them out, even if they have varying degrees of dementia. They still reminisce about music. Music is the common denominator with them all.”
Mr Brophy said he remained committed to transforming the lives of others, noting the contribution of the foundation’s 80 active volunteers was “immeasurable.”
Asked why they do it, he said: “It’s the delight on people’s faces. We give them this food and honestly, you’d think they’d won Tattslotto.”
Paul Brophy, CEO of the Father Bob Maguire Foundation. Photo: Hanna Komissarova.