Tom Stodulka Interview
Tom Stodulka Bio
Tom was born in Bathurst, New South Wales in 1951, in one of Australia’s post World War II refugee camps, a huge improvement on the UN Displaced Person’s Camp in Naples where his brother Andrea was born. After some intense cross border encounters in Germany, Switzerland and Holland, his parents Zdeny and Philomena had fled Czechoslovakia in 1947 and were ordered to travel by train to Naples, where life was no picnic, to say the least. Tom’s early formative years were spent in Parramatta and after being educated at the King’s School and North Sydney Boys’ High he studied law at The University of Sydney, where he won an Australia-Britain Society scholarship, which took him on an overseas study tour.
In 1976 he joined the Royal Australian navy as a naval legal officer and served in most Australian States and in the United States during the 1990-91 Gulf War, after a short stint in Pakistan and the Khyber Pass. After 20 years in the Australian Military he established a full-time career as a mediator and facilitator, practising throughout Australia, including the Northern Territory, where he was the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, before settling in Brisbane in 2002.
An early pioneer of mediation and alternative dispute resolution and mentored by the late Sir Laurence Street, he has promoted its benefits both here in Australia and overseas. Tom is accredited internationally in India, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong and New Zealand and has promoted mediation across Vietnam in recent years. In 2019 he was honored to receive the Australasian Mediator of the Year award.
Tom has been fortunate to have enormous support from his parents and his loving wife Janet and three children. This along with the great support from many friends and colleagues across the country has played a major role in shaping him every step of the way.
Growing up in a refugee household, where English was a second language to German, had its challenges and benefits. Assimilation was the order of the day and resilience and unimaginable strength and sacrifice shown by his parents and his grandmother created a unique background and environment. In primary school, he struggled with his English essays and often his mother stepped in to help, despite her own challenges learning a new language. Being a contemporary of the author John Marsden helped to inspire Tom years later, to try his hand at writing.
Tom was always a happy child, able to keep up a positive disposition, despite the many home pressures and stresses of day to day life. His father was a successful Sydney artist and Tom played a major role in the management and promotion of the cottage industry which contributed to helping pay the prohibitive school fees. The early exposure to the arts and artistic endeavour provided a strong and enduring legacy. Finally, in 1976 whilst at sea in the Pacific Ocean with the navy he wrote his first poem and found a way to express his own artistic creativity.