Gerard (Gerry) Hand (SPC 1954-58, PY1960)

December 8, 2023

Gerry Hand,

We are saddened at the passing of Old Collegian Gerard (Gerry) Hand (SPC 1954-58, PY1960) who passed away on 15 November 2023, aged, 82 years.

A state funeral service was held for the former Labor politician in Melbourne at St Ignatius Church at Richmond on 29 November.
The former minister, better known as Gerry, was elected as the federal member for Melbourne in 1983.

He went on to serve in ministries of Labor prime minister Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, including a period from 1987 as Aboriginal affairs minister.

In 1990, Mr Hand took the portfolios of immigration, local government and ethnic affairs, and was also named minister assisting the prime minister for multicultural affairs.

He retired in 1993, a decade after he was elected to the House of Representatives.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese remembered Gerry as a man who “gave all he had to the Labor cause” and became very close colleagues with Mr Hawke.

“So much so that when Paul Keating became Prime Minister, he was asked why he had chosen to retain Hawke loyalists like Gerry Hand in his cabinet,” Mr Albanese said in a statement.

“It’s fair to say Gerry Hand understood better than most just how hard the road could be in political life.

“It’s true that both his portfolios were ones where the issues and arguments are often charged with emotion.”

Gerry spoke of his ministerial years as turbulent and he on more than one occasion had to make tough choices and wear harsh criticism, Mr Albanese said.

“Yet, tellingly, he retired from parliament with no expression of regret, only words of gratitude,” the prime minister said.

“Gratitude for the privilege of representing his community, for the people who had chosen him as their local member, for the colleagues he served alongside, for the staff who supported him through thick and thin and, above all, for his wife and children who he dearly loved.”

Gerry was the eldest son of Les and Shelia Hand, loved brother of Annette, Peter (SPC 1959-62, PY1967) (dec), Bernadette, Margaret-Mary, Carmel, and Tony (dec). He was the much-loved husband of Maree (dec) and Faith and father of Michelle, Vicky, Leigh, Lorcan.

Gerry was buried in his family hometown of Warrnambool, where he came to St Patrick’s College as a boarder, in grade six.

Gerry was an active member at school, and was involved in football, athletics, band and the cadets.

Gerry Hand, pictured in grade six, in the junior class photograph, as published in the 1954 College Annual.

Gerry, pictured in his intermediate class photograph, in the 1958 College Annual.

Gerry was a member of the College band, as published in the 1958 College Annual.

Gerry was also a member of Platoon 5 in 1957, which were the winners of Lt Gen Secombe Trophy.