Brian Dixon: Politics and Leadership

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Brian Dixon

Having completed a Bachelor of Commerce and a Diploma of Education at Melbourne University, and all while still playing at the Melbourne Football Club, Dixon entered Victorian politics in 1964.

Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Baron David Snider, Dixon ran for and assumed the seat of St Kilda representing the Liberal Party of Australia.

Brian Dixon’s Political Career Began in Controversial Circumstances

Making an impact almost immediately in politics, Dixon strongly opposed the then Premier Henry Bolte on the hanging of Ronald Ryan – the last man to be legally executed in Australia. Dixon’s hard work was soon rewarded by promotion into the ministry under new Premier Rupert Hamer. During his time in the ministry, Dixon was delegated a whole host of portfolios, where he served as:

  • The Minister for both Youth and Sport and Recreation from May 1973 – April 1982
  • The Assistant Minister for Education from May 1973 – March 1976
  • The Minister for Social Welfare from March 1976 – February 1979
  • The Minister for Housing from May 1979 – February 1981 and
  • The Minister for Employment and Training from December 1980 – April 1982.
  • He notably also acted as a member for the following committees:
  • The Standing Orders committee from 1967 – 1970 and
  • The Road Safety committee 1969 – 1970.

Particularly during his brief stint in the Road Safety committee, Dixon generated one of the most significant highlights of his political career when he contributed into the world-first legislation of compulsory seat belt wearing in cars. As a reward for his efforts, Dixon received the Graeme Grove medal in 1975 from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and is seen as a pioneer by many in making this legislation a universal reality.

Dixon eventually lost his coveted seat of St Kilda in 1982 to ALP member, Andrew McCutcheon.

Brian Dixon’s Leadership in his Political Career

Without a doubt, Brian Dixon’s leadership qualities extend further than the football field; and his involvement in politics became a sheer tool in utilising his directional skills throughout the many organisations with which he has been affiliated.

His first genuine taste of leadership came from his experiences as a school teacher and lecturer at the Croydon High School and Melbourne University respectively, where he was appointed and acted as the head of the Economics department at the Melbourne Grammar School in 1963 – 1964.

From there, politics developed into much more of a primary focus for Dixon; yet he nevertheless exercised his leadership muscle, where he functioned as a director for the Victorian Ballet guild in 1970 and the coach of the VFL side, the North Melbourne Kangaroos, in 1971 – 1972 (which was very much a precursor for the Kangaroos’ success in the mid 1970s).

Dixon’s foray into the state ministry in 1973, particularly as the Minister for Sport and Recreation, allowed him to grasp an understanding of how to go about assembling new associations; and so it was that Dixon created and founded a number of associations and organisations within his time in the ministry, which even stretched into the establishment of the iconic organisation: The Life. Be In It. program, where he received the Hoover Award for Marketing in Australia in 1978 for his Life. Be In It. campaign.

Other organisations and associations created and founded by Brian Dixon include:

  • The St Kilda Community Group
  • The Bicycle Institute of Victoria (Now Bicycle Victoria) and
  • The St Kilda Community Aid Abroad.

Throughout most of his tenure as a minister for the Victorian Liberal Government, Dixon was also the chairman of the ‘Olympics Games Bid’ and spearheaded this unique institution into hopefully one day securing a second Olympics Games following the accomplishments of Melbourne, 1956.

Brian Dixon’s Leadership Qualities Extended Far Beyond Politics

Following his political demise in 1982, Dixon joined the newly-founded VFL/AFL side, the Sydney Swans, where he became the executive director for a term of just over six months before returning to the ‘Olympics Games Bid’ institution as the chairman in 1988 and as a consultant in 1988 – 1990 and 1996.

As it happened, Dixon’s love of sport never wilted as he went on to co-found the following world health organisations in 1991:

  • TAFISA (The Association For International Sport for All) and
  • ASFAA (Asiana Sport For All Association).

Specifically, as the Secretary-General of the ASFAA (Asiana Sport For All Association), Dixon laid the foundations for Australian football to be adopted by other nations for the perpetually developing global AFL tournament: The International Cup. In fact, Dixon’s influence into bringing Australian football to countries such as South Africa and India has brought about both countries fielding representative national sides for the International Cup, where the former finished in a highly respectable third place in 2008.

Today, Dixon still plays an integral part in both TAFISA and ASFAA as he continues to promote Australian rules football and the values of a healthy lifestyle to all four corners of the globe.