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Pat Thompson Foundation

Introducing the Pat Thompson Foundation

Connecting communities on environmental and social justice issues across the South Coast and beyond. Empowering others and helping to create a more tolerant and compassionate society.

Pat Thompson made a life-long, unique contribution over five decades to environment and conservation, bringing that ethos for commitment, work and community engagement to the Shoalhaven, his chosen home over the last two decades.

His work as editor of the Shoalhaven based New Bush Telegraph [NBT] newspaper and publisher [Envirobooks] has provided opportunities for a wide range of contributors and the broader community to access information, views, alternative perspectives, discussions and debate related to the environment.

Pat's environmental involvement spanned five decades. As a young bushwalker he joined the Colong Foundation for Wilderness [1970] and was a long-standing Board member, was Chairperson 1994-2007 and one-time editor of their bulletin. He self-published his first book in 1986 and then established 'Envirobook' publishing business, which still operates from his Sussex residence producing environment literature of substantial interest and respected quality. He has brought that experience and wisdom to work with the NBT and activism in the Shoalhaven.

Pat was an unassuming person of distinctive personality who impressed all those that knew him with his character and integrity. He was a caring and concerned citizen who embraces not just environmental issues but social and humanitarian matters. He was dedicated to linking with Shoalhaven people, particularly those with the same interests and dedication and enhancing their opportunities to engage and contribute. In that sense he is no 'loner' and cultivated far-reaching connections.

Pat's work and commitment in the company of his network of associations and contributors significantly lifted the level of community engagement and education on the environmental matters he brought attention to through the NBT. 

In some part, this reflected his start to working life as a teacher. His eighteen years as editor of NBT has provided an exceptional opportunity under his stewardship for Shoalhaven people and organisations to contribute to a broader, better-balanced view of the Shoalhaven and its potential and challenges.

The NBT has developed a very wide range of personal and community support over the years and encourages people to sit up and take notice of a range of community issues related to the environment. This has been and still is at a time when the imperative for community education on environmental challenges has never been greater. The NBT has been inclusive of Aboriginal people and their particular interests, based on a shared interest of the health of environment and country, providing opportunities for Indigenous perspectives to be heard.

Pat inspired so many people because they appreciate that without his sustained, long term efforts, a highly valuable opportunity for progressive thinking and expression on environment in a dual media format of print and web would simply not exist in the Shoalhaven.

The NBT exemplifies unencumbered free speech and democratic process within the Shoalhaven community for that same community. By providing this opportunity for citizen writers and commentators, without any financial attachment, they are embraced and skilled in a co-operative 'team' context within the NBT.  All of this creates a vigilance by the community, necessary for environmental and social health and well-being.

The NBT began in 1987 and the last print edition was in November 2019, after which it became an online newspaper and expanded to cover the south coast areas of NSW. The hope is that the South Coast can sustain a pro-environment and socially intelligent publication online beyond its Shoalhaven roots.

To achieve what Pat has done over such a long period and what the NBT continues to do requires substantial, sustained and investigative research into quite varied issues and topics to ensure the integrity of the NBT. Additionally, this is necessarily paralleled by careful, continuing guidance and support of community contributors. It is mostly the generation of such voices that stands out in the Shoalhaven for all the Shoalhaven and adds such value and balance to the broader, public community voice. The context of this is a highly successful, not-for-profit, community-based venture, which is by so many standards quite unique.

Amanda Findley and Chris Grounds accepting the 2020 Shoalhaven Council Environment Award on Pat's behalf. Photo supplied.

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