Tim Costello: A lot with a little
Hardie Grant Books, $45 hb, 336 pp, 9781743795521
This autobiography by Tim Costello – Baptist minister, lawyer, anti-casino activist, CEO of World Vision Australia for thirteen years – is a clear and straightforward account of his life, free of obvious literary artifice. What Costello has tried to do, he says, is to understand and explain how his memories and experiences, especially of childhood and family life, have made him develop as an adult, often in ways that have become apparent only with maturity.
Costello grew up in 1950s suburban Melbourne, the eldest of three children: his brother, Peter, Australia’s longest-serving federal treasurer, is two years younger. Theirs was a small, safe world, and the Costello children had fairly standard childhoods: Costello mentions the excitement of television, joining gangs, playing in the bush. They also brought stray kids home from school for meals; Tim and his mother usually looked after them. Their father, Russell, joined the Baptist Church as a young man and spent his entire working life as a teacher at a Baptist grammar school. Anne, their mother, came from a middle-class background and overcame cardiac problems to study arts and social studies; she combined family life with teaching. The Costello parents met at university, and Tim, Peter, and his sister, Janet, were all brought up to believe in the importance of education.