Vale : Their Legacy Lives On

Many extraordinary people have contributed to the inception, growth and longevity of Foundation House. Some of these individuals, who sadly are no longer with us, have left a particular mark and an enduring legacy.

Cesar Benalcazar

(died 2009)

Foundation House first came to know Cesar Benalcazar when he arrived in Australia after years of work in Colombia as a doctor, helping the poor and the dispossessed, the persecuted and the innocent, which he did at great risk to his own well being.

Cesar was pivotal in the development of our research program. He believed that knowledge was crucial to progress and that our service had a responsibility to not only deliver the best services possible but to also build and share the knowledge contained within that work. It is a vision we remain vitally committed to.

Quentin Buckle


Quentin was a fiercely committed human rights campaigner and social justice activist. He was particularly active in his solidarity with people struggling against repression in Iran and Chile and this led to his work in helping to establish Foundation House in 1987.

Quentin’s passion shaped our service into one that had the courage to sit with the pain and anguish that survivors feel and to help them rebuild their shattered lives through their stories of courage and resilience.

His vision of an agency that would constructively carry that learning into the political realm, where social and systemic change could be achieved, has also been one of his most enduring legacies.

In 2007, Foundation House established the annual Quentin Buckle Study Grant in Quentin’s honour. The award is designed to support its recipient from a refugee background to undertake or continue education or training in their chosen field.

Ron Castan AM QC


We will always be thankful to Ron Castan AM QC for lending his name and standing to our organisation as a founding patron in our establishment years.

A barrister and human rights advocate, Ron is especially remembered for playing a leading role in some of Australia’s most important legal cases regarding the environment and Indigenous affairs and is best known for his decade-long work on the Mabo native title case.

In recognition of this enormous contribution to Australian society and his work in constitutional and human rights law, the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

Professor Max Charlesworth AO


A founding patron of Foundation House, Professor Max Charlesworth AO was a leading philosopher and ethicist who devoted his life and career to challenging entrenched ways of thinking and to improving Australian society.

Max’s support in our formative years and beyond was critical in establishing our innovative model of service and sound reputation. In July 2014, as an expression of appreciation for Max’s commitment to Foundation House, we were delighted to name our annual oration in his honour.

The Max Charlesworth Oration is a fitting tribute to his significant and lasting contribution to survivors of torture and trauma in Victoria. We thank Max’s family for allowing us to honour him in this way.

Reverend James Weston Elvins


Weston was a founding member on the Foundation House Committee of Management and served as the organisation’s treasurer for more than eight years.

He is remembered as a staunch supporter of Foundation House and its work for many years as well as having spent a lifetime advocating for social justice for marginalised people. We remember his service to the community with gratitude and respect.

John Gibson AM


One of the Australian refugee sector’s best loved and most admired advocates, John Gibson AM was internationally respected for his knowledge of refugee law, his tireless advocacy for refugees and asylum seekers, and his leadership of Australia’s refugee sector.

In 1987, John was one of a small group of people who banded together to establish the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture. John put pen to paper – literally – to sketch a detailed plan for the establishment of a new agency to assist survivors of torture living in Victoria. He was the founding chairperson of Foundation House, serving until 1992, and he was pivotal in leading and shaping our work.

John also served as the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) President between January 2006 and August 2012 and as a member (part-time) of the Refugee Review Tribunal for four years. A member of the Victorian Bar, he operated a specialist practice in refugee and migration law, served as junior counsel in a number of significant High Court cases on refugee issues and provided information, advice and training on a variety of refugee-related issues both in Australia and overseas. In 2013, John was made a Member of the Order of Australia ‘for significant service to international relations as an advocate for human rights’.

In honour of John’s outstanding contribution to this field of work, Foundation House established the John Gibson Memorial Prize in Refugee Law in partnership with The University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Law School. Established in 2013 and administered by The University of Melbourne, the Prize is awarded to the top student in a refugee law subject. It recognises John’s outstanding contribution to the care of refugees and to refugee law.

Ian McKenzie OAM


Ian was a long-time friend and Board Member of Foundation House. He made a deep and valued contribution and is dearly remembered by the Board, senior management and staff.

Ian was an exceptional photographer and communicator, and used those skills to support Foundation House in a variety of ways. His talents were recognised when he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday 2014 Honours List for service to the visual arts as a photographer, and to the community. Many of Ian’s images of our clients and our work grace our walls, and his contribution is ever present.

A measure of Ian’s indomitable spirit became apparent after his death in October 2014 when his wife, Louise McKenzie, revealed Ian had bequeathed a considerable sum to Foundation House. These funds were used to establish the annual Ian McKenzie Endeavour Grant

Professor Beverley Raphael


Professor Beverley Raphael was a leading psychiatrist in the field of trauma and a founding patron of Foundation House who served until 2007.

A high achiever with a passion to help others, Beverley was one of very few women to enter the field of medicine in the early 1950s. After a career as a general practitioner, Beverley moved into academia and research and led expert inquiries into widows and bereavement and into preventative psychiatry. Her experience with the Granville train disaster of 1977 led to work in the trauma field and she went on to focus on the HIV epidemic and, most significantly, to important work in Indigenous health.

Beverley’s support of Foundation House was greatly appreciated by us all and helped to shape Australia’s support of refugees who have survived experiences of torture and trauma.

Alexander Stitt AM


Alex and his partner Paddy Stitt came to be involved with Foundation House through Board member, the late Ian McKenzie OAM, and worked closely with the Board and staff through the early 2000s.

As a formidable team, Paddy, Alex and Ian collaborated on a pro bono basis with us to publish a series of Foundation House calendars featuring the stories and photographs of refugees. Later, Paddy and Alex consulted with us, again on a pro bono basis, to conceptualise and create the Foundation House logo.

Paddy and Alex’s different skills were woven together in many collaborative projects, and in their shared commitment to the work of Foundation House with survivors of torture and broader refugee issues their extraordinary partnership was never more apparent.

We will always be grateful for the contribution Alex and Paddy made to Foundation House and the way we present ourselves to the wider community.

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