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Cloaked in Nostalgia

 Please note that from 1 August 2018, MIFQ merged with RFQ.

Please also see for information on services provided by the merged entity.

It’s Ekka time once again in Brisbane and for MIFQ that means nostalgic thoughts of operating the exhibition’s cloakroom.

One of Brisbane’s most popular events was also the backdrop for one of the MIFQ’s most successful fundraising projects for two decades.

In 1989, after making a tidy sum selling tea and coffee from a van since 1986, MIFQ accepted an offer from the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (RNA) to operate the cloakroom at the Ekka – and there were bags of benefits!

Over the years hundreds of volunteers -members, MIFQ staff and other supporters -helped check in hundreds of thousands of bags, strollers, stuffed toys and jackets. 

For many it was a valuable opportunity to connect with people in a work environment – a real confidence booster, and an important part of their recovery.


The cloakroom was also a good earner right from the start, with proceeds reaching around $15,000 in the first year.

Judy Leary was the cloakroom co-ordinator from 1999.

She consistently wrote of the fondness and pride she felt about the project, in her annual “report card.”

“Co-ordinating the cloakroom gave me such joy,” said Judy.

“In addition to raising much needed funds for MIFQ, the cloak room was a great way for volunteers to experience the Ekka, form new friendships, and grow in confidence.

“Seeing the volunteers give so much of themselves during the 10 days of the EKKA encouraged me in my belief that there is life after a diagnosis of mental illness."

“We received constant positive feedback from members who were so thankful for the opportunity to be involved – it was certainly an operation the organisation can be proud of.”

MIFQ’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed.  In 2007 Channel Ten news aired a segment about the cloakroom, and Brisbane photographer Claudia Baxter photographed the volunteers for an exhibition at the Museum of Brisbane, in City Hall.

2008 was the last year the cloak room was part of the showbag pavilion.  The RNA undertook a massive 15 year redevelopment of the show grounds, which commenced after the 2009 EKKA.

The three billion dollar project meant many significant changes for the show grounds, including the refurbishment of the show bag pavilion. The cloakroom operated in other locations until a decision on its future was made.

Sadly, the cloakroom’s last year was in 2010, with the RNA deciding instead to have lockers placed around the grounds.

In that final year around 100 volunteers, including MIFQ members and participants, carers, community members, and staff from Brisbane City Council and Suncorp all pitched in.