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Faine flags Fischer for veterans’ art

10 Sep 2019

Faine flags Fischer for veterans’ art Image

ABC Melbourne radio presenter Jon Faine got a local conversation started last month in the aftermath of former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer’s death on August 22.

Speaking on radio about his friend, a former Vietnam veteran who served for Australia between 1966 and 1969, Mr Faine proposed that Mr Fischer’s legacy might lend itself nicely to a local initiative that continues to fight for government support.

The Australian National Veteran Arts Museum (ANVAM) continues to lobby the Department of Defence and all levels of government on gaining access to the former repatriation clinic at 310 St Kilda Rd in Southbank, which has been empty for more than 20 years.

Defence maintains that the property remains “surplus to requirements” and has made continuous efforts to try and offload the building to the state government and, more recently, the City of Melbourne.

“In accordance with this policy, Defence is working with the City of Melbourne to explore its interest in an off-market sale of 310 St Kilda Road,” a Defence spokesperson told Southbank Local News last month.

While the situation continues to cause frustration to the ANVAM board, which is still seeking to establish an arts museum, studios and community space for the support and rehabilitation of veterans, Mr Faine sought to boost spirits through a new idea.

Following the sad loss of Mr Fischer, whose death at 73 has been directly linked with exposure to chemical agent orange during his service in Vietnam, Mr Faine suggested that ANVAM’s future home at 310 St Kilda Rd might be named after the former veteran.

ANVAM’s director Mark Johnston told Southbank Local News that it was certainly interested in exploring the prospect of naming rights in some capacity with Mr Fischer’s family

“Tim has a lot of relevance to what we do,” Mr Johnston said. “Obviously he is a veteran and a war veteran at that. He went on to high office so his post service experience was very positive.”

“His death can be attributed to his service, so the suffering that he endured particularly later in life due to his service is part of our message that we exist to relieve suffering. And, his creative writing as an artform certainly resonates very well so he becomes a very good figure from the particular generation.”

“I have actually spoken to a very close friend of his about it and we’ve tried to put it to the Minister for Veterans Darren Chester that this is something that we could do as one of the elders of his National Party but we’re still waiting to hear back.”

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