Kayne Tremills with Jim Stynes and Julia Gillard


When I met Jim Stynes in 2002, I was a little fed up with the normal school system and was finding out other ways to amuse myself. I was told I should go and check out these workshops Jim and his mate Paul Currie were running. I did, and I never really left.

Those workshops were Reach, the youth (or as Jim liked to say, ‘Yoof’) program he started from the back of his car in 1994.

Jim, from very early on (even before Reach was established) had something in him that was quite unique. He cared about a lot about people; he saw his own background in them. He saw a lot of strugglers – particularly among the boys.

Jim was running footy workshops but he realised they weren’t working. Then he met Paul Currie (Reach co-founder) and saw drama workshops which focused on something else entirely. Paul went in, worked his magic and then the friendship, and Reach, was born.

They realised between the two of them they could combine something more universal and adaptable to the everyday lifestyle. It was more about the empathy and the social and the human side of life and they started to explore that and – badda bing badda boom – there it was.

Jim Stynes

Jim was a mentor. I’ve tried to sit down and think about what he meant to me. Jim was often viewed as the heart of the entire organisation. He led with his heart. He had that footy mentality; he was a bloke but he wasn’t … I never felt like you couldn’t approach him. He was such a big man and you could feel his energy in a room but he was always so gentle and willing to talk to anyone. He was an all-around beautiful man.

I grew up fatherless in a way, but he definitely played some of that part in my life. It breaks my heart to think his kids won’t have him anymore, but at least they had him for some time. People never forget the time they had Jim. He leaves something with them.

Everything about Reach encapsulates who Jim was as a man. There’s not a person I know who has spent time with Jim and not walked away without some form of empowerment. He had this being about him.

There were a couple of times, when he took me under his wing and we went on car rides. One time I was so stoked to go with him out to woop woop. We got about 15 minutes over this bridge and he asked ‘can you drive’? We spent the entire three-hour car trip talking about me and my experiences. That was the most stunning, most powerful thing about him. He listened and he cared.

I miss him already.

If you would like to hear more about Reach, or lend a hand, go here.

Kayne Tremills is the co-host of ABC’s Studio 3 and presents programs like Bushwhacked and My Great Big Adventure.

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