Q & A with Tony Hickey - 13 Years with Red Shield Appeal

Tony Hickey, from Hickey Lawyers on the Gold Coast, has been a driving force behind the city’s Red Shield Appeal business launch for 13 years. Tony recently spoke to Pipeline’s Simone Worthing about his involvement, the motivation for what he does, and his respect for the Salvos

You’re a legend when it comes to the Red Shield Appeal business launch breakfast on the Gold Coast. How did you first get involved with The Salvation Army?

A friend of mine, Soheil Abedian, the former chairman of the Red Shield Appeal on the Gold Coast … called me in 2000 and told me he had a great opportunity for me. Soheil suggested that I take on his role, and explained what it was all about.

I had never been involved with The Salvation Army, but as I reflected on Soheil’s phone call, the respected and well-understood work of the Salvation Army and the strength of the brand, I thought it would indeed be a great opportunity to try to help.

How has the business launch breakfast changed since you became involved?

The key elements of my involvement are the doorknock appeal and the business launch breakfast. The first breakfast I attended in Brisbane was small in number and, to my commercial mind, did not send a hard enough message that we were there to raise money. We had a captive audience and we were barely trying to get them to commit to give during the breakfast.

I knew I could use my large network of contacts to engage a wide range of different people to help The Salvation Army, and I did. The Crown Plaza Hotel on the Gold Coast now hosts the breakfast for free, and the numbers attending have risen from 70-80 to over 350 people.  We are now raising an average of $300,000 at the breakfast.

People come and they know what they’re there for. It’s a great opportunity to showcase, and testify to the work of The alvation Army.

How do you feel personally about the partnership between Hickey lawyers and The Salvation Army?

For me, it’s an absolute pleasure to work with people who are so humble, so compassionate, and who have trusted me to help them connect in the business community. What really impresses me is that they are human – they get frustrated and disappointed but their faith is so deep they just keep going.

It’s also been great to understand more deeply what the Salvos do. I also identified a long time ago that, notwithstanding my best intentions to do some hands-on work with The Salvation Army, that I’m out of my depth and the best thing I can do is to help them raise money. They are the professionals in their areas and for me to use my skills and contacts to help where I can, is a privilege. My contacts are one of my most valuable assets and I don’t use them unless it’s for the good of the community. I’m proud of what we can do for the community of the Gold Coast and that we really deliver.

My personal assistant, Sandy, is a great support and is as committed to the cause as I am. As an office, we can also support the Salvos. I have also appreciated my friendship with Salvation Army officers and have personally sought their counsel at different times. They have always been so willing to help. The Salvos aren’t just for people who don’t have anywhere to sleep tonight.

What feedback do you get from some of the donors?

The need in our community is invisible to many of our donors. They don’t see the homeless on the streets, they don’t see the addicts or struggling families.

Through the breakfast and the appeal, they appreciate being able to understand the needs and the work of the Salvos, and being able to respond to that. They don’t need persuading. For me, letting this group know the extent of the problems we don’t see, is very satisfying.

What do you see as The Salvation Army’s role in society?

The Salvos have a critical role, not just in serving the marginalised, but also in interfacing with government on community needs and how to meet them. No other organisation functions at that level like the Salvos.