A Guide to others

Guides leader Dianne Paterson has been announced as an Order of Australia Medal recipient. 240261_06 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

For more than 65 years, Dianne Paterson has been a Guide in more ways than one.

In the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, Ms Paterson is named an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) recipient for her unwavering service to Girl Guiding and the community.

The humble and inspirational Springvale South resident says she won’t believe it until she sees her name in print.

“I’m gobsmacked.

“I’ve just had so much fun doing what I’m doing.”

Along the way, as a long-standing leader of Brownies, Guides and Rangers, she’s tried to instill into her proteges that they’re “people of value”.

“They’re to value themselves and they’re to value each other.”

Service has been a large part of her life – it’s part of taking the Guide’s ‘Promise’ to serve ‘God and the Queen’.

The same Promise that is now sworn to ‘our country and to develop our beliefs’.

From the time Ms Paterson started Brownies as an eight-year-old in 1956, she never left the movement.

She has led units in Noble Park, Springvale South and Footscray.

Served on the Girl Guides Victoria state council executive, been a Guides state trainer and a volunteer and chaplain on four International Guide Camps.

On the international camps, Ms Paterson led ‘Amazing Faith’ activities – focusing on the similarities between various faiths.

Recently, Girl Guides Australia awarded Ms Paterson the Grey Kangaroo and 50 Years Membership awards.

Currently, girls have a lot of alternative activities to Guiding – many more than in the ‘Golden years’ when Ms Paterson started out.

But the Guides’ values remain timeless such as showing care, support and valuing teamwork.

“When you work as a team, you achieve,” she says.

“It happens when you go on camp – if you work together you have a successful camp. If someone doesn’t pull their weight, the camp isn’t as balanced.”

Even with a leadership hierarchy, everyone is regarded equal. Everyone pitches in “side by side”.

Often on camps, leaders including Ms Paterson are the ones that clean toilets and the rubbish bins.

“They do it because it needs to be done.

“There’s nothing quite like the fun of going to a tip during a camp and talking to the guys at the tip.”

There’s no five-star treatment, she says – recalling a Rangers event at Norfolk Island where they bunked in a hall crawling with cockroaches.

Though she adds there were also cockroaches in the “five-star” hotel at the time.

Guides has connected her to “amazing people” across the world.

“I venture to suggest I don’t know what my life would be like without it.”

For the past six years, Ms Paterson has been Supply Minister at Black Rock Uniting Church. She also works in pastoral care at Glen Waverley Uniting Church.

She is a member of Girl Guides Australia’s Trefoil Guild – the adult chapter that fundraises to help Guides pay for uniforms.

“I’m still paid up and passionate,” she says.

“Once you’ve volunteered and once you’ve been involved, the commitment never finishes.

“It goes on for the rest of your life.”