Threat to memory of Redfern's Mum Shirl

Sydney City Council's plans to remove the Mum Shirl memorial seat outside Redfern's St Vincent's Church as part of the street upgrade have prompted complaints from parishioners and the Aboriginal Medical Service.

According to the Redfern parishioners' blog, Church Mouse Journal, the memorial was installed six or seven years ago by the then South Sydney Council, before it merged with the Sydney City Council.

The seat, regularly used by Aboriginal people, is located outside St Vincent's Church where Fr Ted Kennedy was parish priest for 30 years, and next to the Aboriginal Medical Service.

According to the Journal, the seat is part of the cultural history of Redfern commemorating Mum Shirl's tireless work for the rights and welfare of Aboriginal people. Its location commemorates the long collaboration between Mum Shirl and Fr Kennedy.

The Journal claims that the current parish priest, Fr Gerry Prindiville, a member of The Neocatechumenal Way, requested the removal of the seat.

"Prindiville has alienated local Aborigines who claim he makes them feel 'like lepers', and is at odds with the St Vincent's community. Neither group was consulted," the report said.

A letter of complaint from the Aboriginal Medical Service to the Lord Mayor said that the removal of the seat "would be an outrage" and a "deep insult to Mum Shirl's family and to Aboriginal people generally".

Meanwhile, the Coordinator of the Diocesan Office of Justice, Ecology and Peace in Broome, Br Shane Wood, has welcomed the decision of the Federal Court, handed down in Broome last Friday, granting Native title rights to the Yawuru people after a lengthy determination process.

"This determination gives a level of certainty to all the parties with an interest in the Broome area, and allows negotiations to be set in train amongst all the parties regarding future developments in the Broome area," Br Wood said.

"It is hoped that the Shire, State Government and the Yawuru people can now make progress with regard to future developments in the Broome area that will potentially provide benefits for all concerned."

Br Wood also added his support to the call by the presiding judge, Ron Merkel, for a review of the Native Title process and an increase in the resources provided to parties making claims.

"It is a pity that many of those who were part of the process in the beginning and worked hard to achieve this result have since passed away in the intervening 12 years. Nobody should have to wait this length of time to achieve justice."

Mum Shirl under attack (Church Mouse Journal 1/5/06)
Native Title decision delivers certainty for all parties (Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace, Diocese of Broome 1/5/06)

Message stick recalls papal visit (Warrnambool Standard 27/4/06)

2 May 2006