Courage to Care NSW has over 100 volunteers, many of whom travel with the program as on-site coordinators, exhibition guides, presenters, ‘living historians’ and workshop leaders. Others work behind the scenes in roles such as administration, treasury, fundraising, logistics, education, volunteer training, quality control, WH&S, IT, graphic design and video production.
Without these dedicated people, who willingly give so much of their time and talents, and our supporters, Courage to Care would not be the highly successful social acceptance education program that it is today.
Head of Curatorial
Dr Lynne Swarts
Our Volunteers cover a range of roles including: Coordinators, Presenters, Workshop Facilitators, Transportation, School Outreach, Fundraising, Event Planning, Public Relations and Behind the Scenes.
I was born in Australia in 1949 in a household with parents and grandparents all speaking a foreign language. I grew up in a home from another world. I understood what it felt like ‘to be different’.
Courage to Care attaches great significance to the role of ‘the bystander’. So do I. The bystander could change my world if he/she decided to get involved. Having someone stand alongside me was very different to someone standing opposite me. I learnt first hand what difference a bystander can make to how we see the world, and how we feel.
I see Courage to Care as an opportunity to share with school students how standing with someone, can be so different to simply turning your back on them.
I enjoy the challenge of encouraging students, to speak openly with the people in their lives. I hope a conversation begins, and goes on long after they leave our exhibition.
My family lived in Bielske, Poland. When the deportations commenced my father was sent to Mauthausen, and my mother, sister and grandmother were hidden in the Polish village of Oswiecim (Auschwitz). When my mother found her daughter and mother had been rounded up, she surrendered herself for deportation. My mother survived Auschwitz, and was liberated when Count Bernadotte sent white Red Cross vans into Auschwitz to release Scandinavian prisoners of war, as she was smuggled into a van and sent to Sweden.
After liberation, my father learned that my mother had survived. As he was ill, it took a year for him to join her in Sweden where I was born. My father’s brother, having survived the war by working in Schindler’s factory, immigrated to New Zealand and later Australia. He organised sponsorship for our family, who arrived in Australia by boat as displaced persons in the 1950s and made a new life here for which we are very grateful.
Shirley: My parents left Lithuania to escape the danger of pogroms and settled in South Africa, where I was born. Growing up there, I was horrified at the way the African people were treated under the apartheid rule.
As a child, I would be sent down to the corner shop by my mother. There would invariably be a long line of black people waiting to be served. I would be called to the front because I was a white person. I would insist that those who were before me were served first, much to the consternation of the shopkeeper and admiration of the African people, especially because I was a young girl and had the guts to stand up for what was fair.
After I married, my husband and I left South Africa for Israel due to our anti-Apartheid convictions.
It is important to me to be able to help in any way to stamp out discrimination and bullying, which is the aim of Courage to Care. I am therefore very proud to be a member of this group.
Maxine: I live in Brisbane QLD with my husband Gideon. Our son, his wife and our grandson as well as our daughter and her partner live in Brisbane too. We are also blessed with 3 Parents who live at the Gold Coast. I was born in Johannesburg. We left South Africa in 1976 and went to live in London. We arrived in Australia in 1978 and feel very fortunate to call this home. My paid career has evolved from Teaching to Retail to Marketing. I was a National Fashion Buyer for Myer Stores based in Melbourne and then I had my own fashion label for 11 years, supplying all the major stores as well as many smaller retailers. A return to my roots of teaching saw me become a facilitator within the Retail Industry and I ended that career as the National Marketing Manager.
I heard about Courage to Care through the Jewish community and am pleased to participate as a volunteer as part of a great team. I feel privileged to hear the Survivor’s stories and learn more about those who chose to be upstanders and take such positive actions. I especially value assisting the school students and teachers to consider the choices they make to counteract discrimination and domination.
Shoshana: I was born in Israel in 1946 and immigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1963 when I was 16 years old.
My mother survived Auschwitz, and after Auschwitz was liberated was able to go to Israel. My mother rarely spoke about her experiences in Auschwitz and a general code of silence prevailed in our Melbourne household. My strong abhorrence of racism was formulated by what my mother and many others had suffered. I have one son, who lives in Israel with his wife and two daughters.
After a career as a drug, alcohol and gambling counsellor, I currently work with elderly dementia residents at the Montefiore Home.
I feel privileged in my role as workshop leader to encourage school students to practice the philosophy of Courage to Care to build tolerance, understanding that each student in his or her own way can make a difference.
Vera: I was born in Hungary and my family fled across the border on foot to escape the Communists. We spent time in refugee camps before being accepted into Australia as refugees when I was 5 years old. My parents were both survivors of the Holocaust and lost all their families. They were so grateful to come to Australia and being simply allowed to live normal lives, free from discrimination.
I grew up with parents who had heavy accents, different food and culture and who had to struggle to establish their family in a new country. I certainly was always aware of being different and feeling it hard to fit in. My parents’ stories of their lives so badly affected by discrimination and bullying of the worst possible kinds makes me treasure the basically open and tolerant society that we have in Sydney.
I feel that it is my duty and privilege to do what I can to help students and people of all ages to understand where bullying and the refusal to accept each other can lead. My parents told me stories of people who had the courage in such difficult circumstances to help someone, even in small ways and how that made such a difference. I want to inspire our young people to realise that by not being a bystander they can help someone who is suffering.
Susi: I was born in Vienna and was lucky to have been able to escape with my parents to Australia in 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Several members of our close family were not so fortunate and perished in the Holocaust.
I have spent all my life in Australia and love it. I have been successful in my career (I am a dermatologist). I have a husband, Ron Freeman also a volunteer, one son Jeremy and two lovely grandchildren, Michael and Caroline. I have had a good life in Australia, but I will never forget that I could have easily been one of the six million Jews who perished.
I volunteer with Courage to Care, as I want to enlighten children that one person can make a difference, through telling the stories of those who were saved because others had the Courage to Care. I also want to help teach that one must stand up against discrimination and not be a bystander.
Sharryn: I was born in Brisbane in 1950 and am a proud member of Brisbane’s Jewish community. My husband, John, was also born in Brisbane, so we know full well the challenges of growing up in a small Jewish community. We married in 1971. Having graduating from the University of Queensland in 1969 and working in community pharmacy for 46 years, retirement in early 2017 brought about the opportunity to become a part of the Courage to Care programme. My two daughters and their families live in Melbourne, and my husband and I travel there often to enjoy the company of our four granddaughters. For over 40 years I have been involved in WIZO here in Brisbane and I am also a member of NCJW. Our family has been very involved with the Brisbane Hebrew Congregation, and recently I have also been helping with preparation of lunches for the Jewish Cultural group’s gatherings each month. I attend Sinai College each week to have the children read with me and it gives me great satisfaction to see the improvement as the year goes by. Tennis, swimming, and walking keep me active, and recently I have enjoyed taking part in the local Israeli dancing group.
I was born in Maroubra, Sydney in 1942 and am a Third Generation Australian. My grandparents were from Russia, on my mother’s side and from Poland on my father’s.
The family was fortunate not to be in Europe during World War II. I have been married to Vicki for 12 years and between us we have 7 children and 10 grandchildren all living in Sydney, so we are kept busy.
My professional life has been in architecture and building for 50 years. I specialise in CAD (computer aided design) and run the monthly meetings of the Sydney PC User Group.
I feel very strongly that young people should be aware of discrimination, bullying and racism and given the tools to combat them. Although I have not had personal experience of the Holocaust, I feel that the example of the Holocaust is an effective way to educate students. Courage to Care does this very well.
Barbara: My interest in Courage to Care springs partly from my own family history. I was born in England where my Czechoslovakian born mother and my Polish born father met after the war. Knowing that with the exception of seven people, all other members of their very extended families had perished in the war, they migrated to Australia a few months later. They always valued their newly found freedom and life without discrimination and instilled in me a strong belief in social justice and the Australian ideal of “fair go” for all.
I value the Courage to Care program for presenting to young individuals the nature of bullying and racism and so recognise how their own actions can impact so positively on negative activity. For me it is a great honour also to hear Survivors telling their stories and in so doing, making their history so relevant for today’s youth.
Tony: I was born and raised in Brisbane and am married with 2 adult children. I am a specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapist and have been in private practice with two Physiotherapy Clinics in Brisbane. I believe that we can all help to build a society that does not tolerate racism and bullying in any way.
I was drawn to Courage to Care as it focuses on the stories of people that have made a diference. To make people aware that they have the power as the bystander to speak out and make a diference in someone’s life is the strength of this programme.
Eric: I live in Brisbane with my wife, and have 5 children and 3 grandchildren mostly in Victoria. I was born in South Africa, and immigrated to Israel when I was only 8, so as I grew up, was educated and served in the IDF (and was in
the Yom Kippur war), I regard myself as Israeli, born in South Africa. I am currently retired after all my working years in Information Technology (Computing), and spend a lot of my time volunteering in the community, namely the Qld SES and The Mens Shed.
I got involved with Courage To Care through the local Jewish community, because the 2 main points of the organisation – The Holocaust Survivors and Rescuers, and Bullying in schools and the workplace, are very close to my heart. I feel it a great privilege to be able to represent those that lost their lives in the Holocaust, their families and the survivors, some of whom are in my family too, and the brave rescuers that risked their lives to help save the victims.
Kate: I was born in Queensland, and returned to living in Brisbane, where I currently reside, after some time overseas. My ancestral roots are in Eastern Europe, Ireland and England.
My background is that of a secondary school teacher in the areas of Languages and the Creative Arts.
I discovered the work of Courage to Care when attending an event held by the Jewish community in Brisbane. It is rewarding to be part of an initiative that promotes courage of conviction, an overcoming attitude and hope.
Sue: I am second generation Australian. My grandparents were all from Europe. My mother’s family were victims of discrimination and intimidation in Warsaw, Poland and so decided to leave for Australia before World War II. They were among the lucky ones.
I am teacher trained but for the last 33 years have worked in a family business. This has allowed me to become involved with organisations such as Courage to Care. Because of my teaching I have witnessed first hand bullying by students and its far reaching effects on those being bullied. My hope is that one day we will be able to overcome this behaviour in schools. I also volunteer for an Indigenous organisation that provides educational opportunities for students who otherwise would not have such experiences.
Sister Dominica: I grew up in the Netherlands and after university joined an international, interdenominational Sisterhood based in Germany (see www.kanaan.org). In 2010 I came to Australia to live and work in our branch in Camden, NSW.
Coming from Europe and having lived in Germany for over twenty years I knew much about the Holocaust. However, what speaks to me and challenges me about Courage to Care is its focus on the relationship between rescuers and survivors. Even during one of the darkest times in human history ordinary individuals made a decisive difference in other people’s lives. That is a powerful message. It challenges me to live with my eyes open for what is happening in the world around me and to discern the opportunities to stand up or step in to help where needed.
In Courage to Care I especially value the input and commitment of the Holocaust survivors in telling their personal stories. I feel privileged to be part of it all, helping to get across the message that each one of us can make a difference.
Sister Patricia: The organisation to which I belong has been involved with Courage to Care since its first days in 1999.
Founded in the aftermath of World War II, The Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary has grown to be an international and interdenominational community with sisters from over 20 countries (see www.kanaan.org).
It is important for us to support Courage to Care as it seeks to teach and inform people about the basic kindness we can offer one another; to treat others the way you would like to be treated.
In recognition that the most horrific acts can grow from the smallest of negative seeds, I am happy to support and be a part of a team that seeks to heighten awareness that acts of kindness can and does change lives. It is a joy to work with a diverse group of people with a richness of life experience.
Tom: I was born in Paris in February 1947 – the child of Holocaust survivors Eva and Oscar Schwarz – where they were at that time stateless people awaiting for papers that would allow them to flee the horrors they had just experienced in Europe. I arrived in Australia/Sydney in late 1947 – and I have a sister Miriam (Suzanne) some eight years younger than me – born in Bondi Sydney.
My father (Oscar) had been forced to serve in, and escaped from – several forced labour camps around Hungary – where he endured much privations – little food, working at manual labour in European mountains during winter with summer clothing, little medical care or medicines. During this period he later found out his father had been taken from his home and shot for the crime of being Jewish. His mother and sister were deported to Concentration camps where they perished – he never heard from them again. My mother (Eva) together with her sister and mother were survivors of Auschwitz. Her father perished in the camps.
Together my parents rebuilt a life in Australia from scratch – with no language, assets or training – so my formative framework was that life is hard, you need to be resilient and self-sufficient – survival is the key imperative. My parents worked hard at various small businesses – I was able to go to University (Ph.D in Chemistry) – then I moved onto various careers – in Science/academia-industry and then IT (yes I was ‘bitten’ by the computer bug early) – & now I work as a professional Facilitator/transformation agent and trainer – working globally. I have had the good fortune to live in China/Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, and work in many parts of the Asia Pacific region for over 30 years – and experience the full meaning of diversity, cultural frameworks, stereotyping and discrimination.
I have three children (Simon, Lisa and Ben) all born and living in Sydney – and currently six grandchildren.
My work with Courage to Care is a legacy to my parents – and allows me to transform the truly appalling experience and story that is the Holocaust into a forward looking opportunity for positive change – contributing to a world that I’d like my grandchildren and their children’s children to live in.
Peter: Born near Frankfurt in Germany, I came to Australia in 1986 via London. I live with my partner of near 30 years in Brisbane. From International Hotel Management, owner and operator of a restaurant, Medical Practice Manager and now Landscaper/ Garden designer I have had the great fortune of meeting many interesting people from all over the world and varied walks of life.
My introduction to Courage to Care came via Astrid Wurfl, another Brisbane Volunteer and committee member. Apart from the rich experiences I gain from the interaction with young students and visiting schools, as well as being part of a energetic C2C team I am very passionate about the fact that the devastating history of my forebearers is often told and repeated. Through education and speaking up we can only but try to stem the tide of anti-Semitism, racism and bulling per-se.
Live, Let live and DO NO HARM!
Jaelle: I have been a volunteer with Courage to Care for two or three years now. I joined after retiring and have immensely enjoyed the experience. I believe the message of the program is an excellent one and I love working with such a wonderful group of people who are committed to the philosophy of “being an upstander”. Meeting the men and women who are our “survivors” has been the highlight. It has been such a privilege.
In my paid working life I was an EALD teacher and worked with many people from refugee backgrounds and have a great passion for inter -faith and inter cultural communication.
Olia: Born in the Soviet Union, where my family faced constant persecution due to our Jewish ethnicity, I was very fortunate to migrate to America at the age of ten as a refugee. This gift of freedom inspired me to learn, travel, and help others. I graduated from Columbia University in New York, having studied languages and international education, taught English in Japan, and traveled extensively around the world.
Elie Wiesel said that “Peace is our gift to each other.” My passion for peace and equality inspired me to join the United Nations, where I worked for ten years. Disappointed with the UN’s handling of the Middle East and other conflicts, I left the organisation, moved to Australia and pursued studies in natural medicine. I love living in Brisbane, where my husband, daughter, and step-children are my greatest teachers. My gratitude and pride in being Australian are boundless, and I am honoured to be a member and advocate for the Jewish community.
In the 1950s, my grandparents were sent to a concentration camp under Stalin and my father was exiled to Siberia at a very young age. These injustices, along with my own discrimination ordeals made me keenly aware of the importance of compassion, kindness, and courage. Volunteering as a facilitator for Courage to Care is one of the most meaningful and rewarding things I have ever done. I love spending time with, and learning from, the inspirational Holocaust Survivors. Immortalizing their stories is crucial in honouring their courage and in helping the world to avoid repeating the mistakes of history.
I was born in Hungary after the Second World War. My father was in a forced labour camp during the war while my mother and sister were in hiding during the German occupation of the country. My uncle was tortured and
killed by the Nazis.
My parents, sister and I escaped from communist tyranny during the Hungarian revolution of 1956. We settled in Melbourne in 1957.
As an adult I travelled the world, living in England and Israel for a number of years, before returning to Australia to live in Sydney where my wife and I raised our two children.
I am an engineer, but I also worked for a short period helping teachers at Moriah College High School.
In addition to some horrific experiences of my family, I had to deal with bullying in school – in Hungary because I was a Jew and in Australia because I was the only non-English speaking migrant in my area.
As a result of my experiences, I can easily identify with victimisation and believe that lessons learned from the Courage to Care program can only help make this a better world.