Kevin O’Callaghan has lived in Craigieburn for 40 years, helping to start the suburb’s SES unit and to raise money for the war memorial.
How long have you lived in Craigieburn, and what brought you to the area?
I’ve lived here since 1978. I grew up in Oak Park and my wife grew up in Coburg. Craigieburn had the first real residential estates that were opening at the time we got married and so it was natural for us to head north. We have found Craigieburn to be ideal.
What do you like about Craigieburn?
At first, Craigieburn was a real country town and now it is a massive suburb. We have a lot of friends and family who have moved here. It is close to the city.
How has it changed since 1978?
It went from being a country town of about 3000 people to now having something like 30,000 people. The community was probably a lot closer when it was a smaller town. There was probably about 40 social groups back them. The biggest change has been the growth and the diversity.
What, if anything, would you like to change?
Growing crime is a concern, especially for people of my generation. Crime and vandalism was something you didn’t have to worry about in the early days. It was always a very good thing about Craigieburn.
How did you become involved with the SES?
I was one of the founding members of the Craigieburn SES in 1981 and I am still serving with them. Our main role is road rescue. When I moved to Craigieburn, I had some skills from my time in the Army Reserves that I wanted to use. I’m not into sports so I looked at the emergency services. The SES was the sort of thing I wanted to be involved in.
You were instrumental in securing a war memorial for Craigieburn – how did the Craigieburn War Memorial and Remembrance Committee come about?
I used to take a friend of mine who was a World War II veteran to local services and we had to go to Beveridge. He couldn’t work out why Beveridge had a memorial and service and Craigieburn didn’t. We spoke with the council, and in 2008, we held an Anzac Day service at the SES. We made a decision to set up a committee to raise money to build a memorial, and it was dedicated last April.
What drives you to volunteer?
It goes back to when I was growing up, my mum and dad said you should leave the place better than you find it.
Where is your favourite local place to spend time?
I really like Anzac Park and have always found out the back of the SES building to be quite nice and peaceful.