Celebrating Women's History Month with Patricia Morris's legacy at PCYC
In honour of Women’s History Month, we celebrate one of the many incredible women who have contributed to PCYC and its mission of helping disadvantaged children and young people.
Patricia Morris AM JP Honorary Freeman is the former Patron of Gosnells PCYC and former Mayor of the City of Gosnells. She is a passionate historian with strong ties to the local community, was the longest-serving Mayor of the City of Gosnells (1989-93 and 1999-2007), a Councillor for 23 years, and an Ambassador for the Australian Arab Association in Western Australia.
For Patricia, the history of PCYC is tied deeply to her own family history. Her father, Charles Plank (1908-1997), helped launch the Victoria Park Police Boys’ Club during World War II. Many men in the Victoria Park community left to serve in the armed forces overseas and their absences were felt acutely by their sons, younger brothers, nephews and other young boys. Charles was exempt from serving in the armed forces under the Australian Government ‘Secrets Act’, due to his role as a morse code operator within the Post Masters General.
The secretary of the Police Union, D.S. Carlton, encouraged the formation of the Police Boys’ Club in Western Australia to help these young men.
"It will enable us to look after youths whose fathers are overseas fighting for the preservation of the Empire who have only the guidance of their mothers," argued Mr. Carlton.
The Police Boys’ Club was designed to be a place where boys and young men could go to play games, sports and read. The emphasis on fitness was a vital part of the club’s purpose and was part of a growing movement of youth fitness programs in the 1940s.
The success of the Police Boys’ Clubs in New South Wales in reducing the youth crime rate made its proponents in Perth keen to establish a WA branch.
According to Patricia, the Police Sergeant at the Victoria Park Police Station persuaded Charles to launch a branch of the Police Boys’ Club in Victoria Park. Charles, a keen athlete and competitive tennis player, was the perfect person to instil a passion for sports in the local young people.
Following in her father’s footsteps, Patricia’s own involvement in PCYC started when she was recruited by former Labor politician Tom Bateman to help launch Thornlie PCYC in 1990. The centre was established to help children and young people who were suspended from school. Thornlie PCYC later merged with Gosnells PCYC.
In the 2000s, due to her continuous support of Gosnells PCYC, Patricia was nominated to become Patron of Gosnells PCYC. The news was received reluctantly by some members of the organisation, objecting to having a female patron as the head of their ‘boys club’. Far from letting these attitudes dissuade her, Patricia told us she responded to her critics with “Show me where it says in the Constitution that the Patron cannot be a woman!” Patricia was proudly the Gosnells PCYC Patron for many years.
When asked why she devoted so much of her time to PCYC, Patricia answered by quoting her life motto, “when you have a good life, you give something back.”