Contributed by Joe Montero
I was saddened to hear that an old acquaintance had passed away. His name was Jon Cassidy. Those who knew him called him Darc.
The first time I met Darc was in his home in Melbourne’s Bayside St Kilda. To me, he was a look alike of the Cuban icon Che Guevara, complete with beret and cigar. He came across as confident and friendly, with an added touch of charisma. I soon learned that there was there was also a deep intellect to this man.
I was pretty young in those days. He a little older. It was a time of union militancy, student occupations and the Vietnam War, and we were two of those who had been swept up in the current become. Both became members the Worker Student alliance.
I didn’t know much about his background then. Now I know more. He was the son of a barrister who of the RAAF and died in a plane crash. He was brought up by his dress designer mother.
Nor did I know than that in 1965 he had taken part in the Freedom Ride, a bus tour which exposed endemic racism towards Indigenous people in rural Australia. It meant that he had already been exposed to the rough end of politics in Australia at a very young age. He came across the sometimes violent elements fighting against recognising rights for the First Australians.
When I first met him, Darc was already making his mark as a journalist and focusing on promoting social justice issues.
Then there was the rise the rise of an illegal and mobile pirate radio station. Spooks in red vans with their clearly visible surveillance technology sitting on top, would be cruising the street every time a broadcast was made. They could never catch it. The experience honed skills that were used to set up Australia’s first community radio station 3CR in Melbourne. Darc played a key role in this.
Darc also immersed himself in underground journalism, producing news sheets. He took up photography.
He had been working ABC since 1964, which he joined in 1964, beginning as a researcher in the iconic Four Corners program. In time, he shifted to ABC radio and worked on a range of programs, including Lateline, Broadband and Background Briefing.
Darc was also active in the union, ABC Staff Association, of which he became an official, then secretary of the NSW branch, before moving to become secretary of the Victorian branch.
After his retirement, he became a director of the National Ethnic and Multicultural Broadcasters’ Council, and in this position, was able to play an important role in the rise of Save our SBS, when it was threatened by government cuts.
In his last years he joined the Greens and campaigned for the refugees that Australian government have locked up in what should rightfully be called concentration camps.
Darc will obviously be missed by his family. He will also be missed by those others who he touched during his lifetime. When a good person dies it is especially hard.
By the same token, when someone has contributed towards making this a better world, this person lives on in their legacy and the hearts and minds of those who were touched.
Darc certainly achieved this.