Award-winning writer, Robert Hillman, has collaborated with one of Australia’s best-known youth outreach workers and social campaigners, to bring his story to the public in that wonderful storytelling style that Robert and Les share.
Raised in Braybrook in Melbourne’s Western suburbs, Les has devoted his life to young people doing it tough both in Melbourne’s west and more recently in western Sydney, setting up crucial programs, services and resources to assist youth at risk. His is a success story on many fronts: attracting a dedicated and passionate team who work directly with the young people to bring about individual change; and building a huge public profile to support his work. His personal contact list would be the envy of prime ministers: from politicians to prominent business people to police command to sports champions and CEOs of major sporting codes, to the governor general.
He is renowned for his knowledge and passionate advocacy for those forgotten and hidden from view who are victims of youth homelessness, drug abuse, and all the consequent problems that ensue; focusing on both the micro and macro levels of reforms as the only way to make permanent change.
He is the first stop for Victorian and national media outlets for the word on ‘how it really is’. He has featured in hundreds of TV, radio and print press interviews and has been a regular newspaper columnist and article contributor. He also features in a number of documentaries, most notably The Ohio Gun Buyback Scheme, LA Gangs, Can We Help, 20 Minutes with Twentyman and Heroin Without the Hype.
Les has consistently shone a light on emerging youth issues like gang violence, weapons carriage, cyber bullying and the growing trend of truancy in our education system. The hard-hitting DVD The Realities of Cyber Bullying and Knives Trash Lives are testament to Les’ ‘pull no punches’ approach to the damage caused to youth through peer pressure and social media. He is often called on to visit volatile regional areas of Australia in a bid to bring about harmony and cooperation where gangs and youth violence is a problem. He has also accompanied the Governor General, state government officials and prominent leaders from the private and public sectors to the ‘dark streets’ of Australia they never thought existed.
In addition to his tireless work with disadvantaged youth and media commentary, Les is a well-credentialed public speaker. His speaking engagements include schools, community groups, service clubs, corporate, Government Departments and business conferences. He has also been engaged by AFL and NRL teams to address young players on the pitfalls of ‘celebrity’. A testament to Les’s reach was being asked to introduce his Holiness, The Dalai Lama, at his Melbourne conference in June 2013.
In this memoir, Robert goes behind the public knowledge to find out what makes Les tick, where he came from, who and what made him Australia’s number one advocate for our most vulnerable young people. And what of his private life, if he has one at all? Take a journey with one of Australia’s living treasures to the ugliest side of life and to the best.