Award-winning writer, Robert Hillman, has collaborated with one of Australia's best-known youth outreach workers and social campaigners, to bring his story to the public in that wonderful storytelling style that Robert and Les share.
Raised in Braybrook in Melbourne's Western suburbs, Les has devoted his life to young people doing it tough. In Melbourne's west, and more recently in Western Sydney, Les has set up crucial programs, services and resources to assist youth at risk. His is a success story on many fronts: attracting a dedicated and passionate team who work directly with young people to bring about individual change, and building a huge public profile to support his work. His personal contact list would be the envy of prime ministers: from politicians to prominent business people to police command to sports champions and CEOs of major sporting codes, to the governor general.
He is renowned for his knowledge and passionate advocacy for those forgotten and hidden from view, victims of youth homelessness, drug abuse, and all the consequent problems that ensue; focusing on both personal and community levels of reforms as the only way to make permanent change.
Les has consistently shone a light on emerging youth issues like gang violence, weapons carriage, cyber bullying and the growing trend of truancy in our education system. The hard-hitting DVD The Realities of Cyber Bullying and Knives Trash Lives are testament to Les' pull-no-punches approach to the damage caused to youth through peer pressure and social media. He is often called on to visit volatile regional areas of Australia in a bid to bring about harmony and cooperation where gangs and youth violence is a problem. He has also accompanied the Governor General, state government officials and prominent leaders from the private and public sectors to the -dark streets' of Australia they never thought existed.
He is the first stop for Victorian and national media outlets for the word on how-it-really-is. He has featured in hundreds of TV, radio and print press interviews and has been a regular newspaper columnist and article contributor. He also features in a number of documentaries, most notably The Ohio Gun Buyback Scheme, LA Gangs, Can We Help, 20 Minutes with Twentyman and Heroin Without the Hype.
In addition to his tireless work, Les is a well-credentialed public speaker - schools, community groups, service clubs, corporate, Government Departments and business conferences. He has also been engaged by AFL and NRL teams to address young players on the pitfalls of -celebrity'. A testament to Les's reach was being asked to introduce his Holiness, The Dalai Lama, at his Melbourne conference in June 2013.
In this memoir, Robert goes behind the public knowledge to find out what makes Les tick, where he came from, who and what made him Australia's number one advocate for our most vulnerable young people. And what of his private life, if he has one at all? Take a journey with one of Australia's living treasures to the ugliest side – and to the best – of life.
Leslie Twentyman is a prominent youth outreach worker and community activist in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Raised in Braybrook, he is one of Victoria's best-known social campaigners on issues ranging from homelessness, drug abuse, prison reform and social welfare.
In 1984, Twentyman and Ron Coleman, then owner of the Western Times, founded the 20th Man Fund to give 10 young homeless people a Christmas party. Now The Les Twentyman Foundation, the fund has grown exponentially to become a vital resource for young people, dedicated to providing positive intervention and unconditional support to thousands of Australia's at-risk youth each year. Twentyman has been a prominent presence in the media since the 1980s, featuring in hundreds of TV, radio and print interviews, and has developed personal relationships with countless celebrities, politicians and media-insiders to promote his cause.
Les Twentyman's work was formally recognised in 1994, when he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia; in 2004, as a finalist for Australian of the Year; and in 2006, when he was awarded Victorian of the Year. www.20thman.com.au; www.ltfoundation.com.au
Robert Hillman is a Melbourne-based writer of over 60 works of fiction and non-fiction. His autobiography, The Boy in the Green Suit, won the Australian National Biography Award for 2005. His 2007 biography, My Life as a Traitor, written with Zarah Ghahramani, appeared in numerous overseas editions and was short-listed for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards in 2008.
His first collaboration with Najaf Mazari, The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif (2008), grew out of an abiding interest in the hardships and triumphs of refugees and was a bestseller, now being optioned for a film. He further collaborated with Najaf on The Honey Thief (2011), a beautifully told collection of modern Afghan fables. In 2013, Robert's most recent biography, Gurumul: His Life and Music (2013) was released to great acclaim. www.roberthillmanauthor.com
The Mouth That Roared
Wild Dingo Press
Authors: Les Twentyman OAM and Robert Hillman