Peter Low

Low, Peter – Order of Australia Medal, Centenary Medal.

Who is the Founding President of the Queensland Chinese Forum? Icon Arrow Down

Originally an Australian citizen living in Papua New Guinea, Peter Low moved his family to Brisbane in 1974. Over the next four years, Low visited them three times a year until moving permanently to Brisbane in 1978. In 1980, Low joined the Macgregor Lions Club, and from 1980 until 1986, served as the area coordinator for the Queensland Cancer Fund. In 1996, Low was instrumental in helping the Sunnybank Lions Club form the Brisbane Chinese Lions Club.

A 1985 Cathy Club tour of China with his wife became the catalyst for Low's commitment to the betterment of Queensland's Chinese community. Upon returning to Brisbane, Low joined the Cathy Club's welfare arm, becoming Welfare Director in March 1986. Low became Vice-President in 1987, and then President in 1988, continuing to serve in these positions.

Through this voluntary work, Low has been instrumental in establishing English language classes for newly arrived migrants, and Cantonese and Mandarin classes for the children of migrants to ensure the maintenance of their cultural heritage. Low assisted in the establishment of an in-home care service for senior Chinese-Australian citizens, which today receives Federal funding under the HACC and Aged Care schemes. Low also participated in the establishment of a Chinese Women's Health Program to ensure healthy living and exercise became a community agenda.

In 1993, Low became the Founding President of the Queensland Chinese Forum. In response to the 1990s rise of misinformation and divisive policies fore-fronted by the One Nation Party, Low acted with the then Queensland Chinese Forum President Bill Qui to combine with other ethnic organisations, such as the Australian Communities Against Racism and Discrimination, and also Indigenous elders to raise political support for community forums and to rally against One Nation through a show of multicultural solidarity.

During the 1990s, Low volunteered his services to the Brisbane City Council to reverse the decline of Fortitude Valley and the ethnic community's hub, Chinatown. In 1991, Low was elected Foundation Director of the Valley Business Association, established to promote and market Chinatown and the Brunswick Street Mall, remaining in this position until 1997. In 1994, Low became heavily involved in the major refurbishment of Chinatown, after all of the original Chinese-style rotunda roofs had suffered severe damage. Qingdao designers and builders were employed to rebuild the rotundas, with work completed in 1996.

Low worked with the Queensland Police to establish a 'clean-up' campaign that saw the removal of day and night alcohol and drug infused violence, and street-walking prostitution in the Valley. Low arranged shelters for the homeless and rural retreats for disadvantage Indigenous peoples. Low was also active in developing practical measures of better street lighting and a constant police presence. By the time Low resigned from Brisbane Marketing in 2001, businesses were once again returning to the Valley, and the precinct was on its way to enjoying its current economic success and lifestyle popularity. Low subsequently became the Queensland Premier's voluntary representative on the Brisbane City Council Advisory Board for Chinatown and Brunswick Street Malls. He is also a voluntary member of the Queensland China Council in the Premier's Department.

In 2003, Low responded to Multicultural Community Centre Director Jeannie Mok's request to assist in implementing a Queensland Government funded project to equip ethnic Chinatown and New Farm chefs with Australian Hospitality qualifications. Low joined Mok in visiting each of the major restaurants and persuading these culinary experts that they would benefit from the Australian certification. Granted this certification, these chefs have been empowered to further their career promotion.

Through his capacity in the Queensland Chinese Forum, Low continues to be a driving force behind the realisation of Dr Kee Cheung's vision of establishing a Queensland Chinese Museum. Both the current virtual museum and future physical museum aim to ensure the significant contribution of Queensland's Chinese community is acknowledge and made available to the general public.

Low also remains active in raising awareness of more than 500 Chinese-Australians who have seen active wartime service for the nation. With a memorial Chinese bronze bell having been proposed by Dr Kee Cheung, Low successfully lobbied for Commonwealth, State and Local Government funding to cast the Commemorative Bell, which was unveiled in Brisbane's Chinatown Mall in March 2007.

  • Mok, J. Multicultural Trailblazers. Ethnic Communities Council of Queensland & Multicultural Community Centre, Brisbane, 2004.