Joe Forace OAM (1925-2005) was a diplomat and High Commissioner for Malta in Australia.
Joe was born in Valletta on October 7, 1925. He spent some years as a seaman in the merchant navy, then as journalist for Il-Berqa - a daily newspaper in Maltese. In Malta he was a trade-union and political activist.
He migrated to Sydney in 1954 and lived in Gilmore, Canberra. He was active within the Maltese community, involved with the Phoenician Club, the Maltese Guild of Australia, the Maltese Settlers Association, and the Maltese Association in Canberra and Queanbeyan. He worked with Australia Post, and other jobs including work with the railways and in a refrigerator factory. He then became involved in real estate and became sales manager with L .J. Hooker. Joe joined the Australian Labor Party and become one of a small number of non-English speaking persons to hold office in an ALP branch (Paddington- Woollahra).
In 1971, when Labor returned to power in Malta, he became High Commissioner in Australia, with duties as Roving Ambassador to sixteen countries, including China and the Arab world. In 1978 he was Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Canberra. He resigned for personal reasons in 1979.
He is best remembered for diplomatic involvement with China. He made several visits to the People’s Republic of China in 1972 and became a friend and confidant of Premier Zhou En Lai. Forace says: “I looked on him as if he was my father, and he used to look at me as if I was his son.” This friendship enabled him to become a go-between in talks between China and Australia and other Commonwealth countries.
Awards and recognitions
In 1996 Joe was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to the Maltese community. He was a member of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (Knights of Malta).
Joe was married to Frances Troisi and had two children, Lina & Rose. He died on the 27th of April, 2005.