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Category Archives: South Sydney Uniting Church

South Sydney will be at Copenhagen

Here is a snippet from this month’s South Sydney Herald.

pat In case you can’t read that, it says that Redfern identity Patricia Corowa is off to Copenhagen for the Climate Change meet. She has a special interest in the Pacific Island implications.

Redfern activist calls for climate justice

The Rudd Government’s failure to adopt adequate greenhouse gas emission targets may prove devastating for Pacific Islanders, according to Aboriginal and Islander activist Patricia Corowa reports Laura Bannister in the South Sydney Herald of February 2009.

“Australia reaps the economic benefits of being the world’s highest per capita polluter, while sovereign island nations like the economically disadvantaged Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga and Samoa watch rising seas sweep through their houses,” she says.

As a third-generation South Sea Islander or “saltwater Murroona woman,” Ms Corowa has always had a “strong sense and knowledge of country”.

The retired Sydney airport customs officer, and grandmother of one, says she has been an Aboriginal and Islander activist since age 10, when remote Indigenous communities were persecuted by white settlers. During the 1970s Ms Corowa founded several pivotal welfare organisations including the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service.

Now living in Redfern, she is a strong advocate of climate justice for resource-poor Oceania nations and believes the Australian Government, as the dominant regional power, is bound by a duty of care for them. “I am not persuaded that there has been serious or even basic discussion about the rights of small Pacific Island nations under threat,” she says. “The situation [of many Islanders] is alarming.”

Tuvalu is one such struggling island nation. Made up of reef islands and atolls, the low-lying land is a mere five metres above sea level at its highest point and has few natural resources. With less than 100 tourists visiting annually, Tuvalu’s weak economy is heavily dependent upon foreign aid.

Yet industrialised countries refuse to adequately curb their consumption of dwindling resources or restrain greenhouse gas production, factors that could eventually result in the nation’s complete submersion, Ms Corowa argues.

Ms Corowa says the displacement of Pacific Islanders contravenes Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines the right of every person to a home. “I contend that unrestrained greenhouse gas production by Australia and other economically developed countries for their own advantage constitutes arbitrary interference,” Ms Corowa says.

“When Australians sing ‘our home is girt by sea’ do they really understand that sea includes three great oceans … with Indigenous Islander societies?”

Source: South Sydney Herald February 2009 www.southsydneyherald.com.au

 

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My December-January South Sydney Herald story

Shuffling the years with Bev Hunter

Like old Dan in Judith Wright’s “South of My Days” John and Bev Hunter have seventy years of Darlington memories hived up in them like old honey. “It was a great place. We had the best of it,” Bev recalls. “It was a really safe area. You could leave your key in the door, or leave it open, or the key under the mat. You never got shut out.”

“It was terrible, what happened. ‘Progress’ they call it, but the Town Hall where everyone had their birthday parties, engagement parties, wedding parties – that went. But we did save the old school, which is a music room now, and the gates with the war memorials. How many were affected? You’d have to look at the James Colman Report on the expansion of Sydney University into the Darlington area.” Bev has a copy in front of her; it came out in 1976 and is in Waterloo Library.

There were some, apparently, who helped themselves to people’s property even before they had fully moved out. Some of the local hard men soon dealt with that. “It was pretty tough in those days,” Bev says. “But we did get enough support to stop them crossing Shepherd Street” – referring to the University of Sydney which began encroaching on Darlington in the 1960s and has now swallowed up almost half the suburb.

Not the first time the area was devoured of course. In 1788-9 the “Kangaroo Ground” (as it was then known) was set aside for educational and other purposes, though it would be the 1850s before the University actually appeared just above the swamp and lake that formed one of two sources of Blackwattle Creek. By 1791 most of the Cadigal had succumbed to smallpox and other hazards. In 1835 the botanist Thomas Shepherd had a nursery there named in honour of Governor Ralph Darling; the street names – Ivy, Rose and so on – reflect that origin. By the late 19th century Darlington was well established as the working class suburb John and Bev Hunter were later born into.

One of the attractions for young people in the 40s and 50s of last century was the Surryville. Johnny Devlin & the Devils, from New Zealand, started a permanent Tuesday night dance at the Surryville, but the place had been jumping long before that. St Vincent de Paul’s had an event there: “In the winter of 1903, the Society organized at ‘SurreyVille’ for the’ distressed poor of the parish’ a Bread and Butter Dance which was hailed as ‘a perfect success’. Thirty-three lady parishioners, ranging from Madame Huenerbein to Madame McSweeney furnished a generous table free …Rickett’s string band discoursed the music and Miss May Stanley played the extras’ . G.Smythe provided Arnott biscuits, E. and G.Humphreys the cordials, the chemist Mr. M.H.Limon the programmes, and four local butchers the meat.” Bev remembers the alcohol-free dance nights. “We used to walk up to the Surryville, where the Wentworth Building now is, and walk home again around 11pm – that’s how safe it was then”

But the University did provide work too for local people in the 60s and 70s. Bev herself worked as a cleaner in the Wentworth Building from 5-9am, then worked at a shop on the corner of Calder Road and Shepherd Street, which she eventually owned. Later she was in the hamburger bar upstairs in Wentworth. The Calder Road shop did much business with students from the new Engineering School; among Bev’s customers was Frank Sartor with whom Bev would in time be on Sydney Council. Bev’s activism in that role is local legend now. Her community work was acknowledged by the Council in 1988 with an Australia Day Award for voluntary work. She had also become a JP during those activist days so she could save people having to walk up to Newtown Court to get their documents witnessed. She is still an active JP.

Bev and John raised three children in Darlington. Retired to Long Jetty, she still feels part of the Darlington community. Some of their old neighbours now live not far from their new home, including one who was John’s next-door neighbour in 1939. Bev still has relatives and friends in Darlington and visits quite often. A sister-in-law and her family still live in Calder Road.

Acknowledgement: St. James’ Forest Lodge parish history (online) for the account of the St Vincent de Paul event of 1903

 

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For friends of South Sydney

10am is not compulsory. 😉

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Aunty Beryl story – South Sydney Herald

Yes, the South Sydney Herald is out, so I can share the Aunty Beryl story now.

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Aunty Beryl’s three word dictionary

“My dictionary has just three words,” Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo says. “Communication, Education, Respect. That’s what I tell those students in there all the time.”

Not a bad dictionary that, and there’s a story and a half behind it.

Three years ago, following an initiative by the Redfern Waterloo Authority, Aunty Beryl co-founded the Yaama Dhiyaan Hospitality and Function Centre with chef Mathew Cribb. The Centre is in Wilson Street Darlington just by Carriage Works. Those three years have seen quite a few personal transformations – young students made confident enough by their success at Certificate II Hospitality to go back and do the HSC; families now well fed with good slow food and a real knowledge of nutrition; people finding jobs in the hospitality sector.

Of the 106 graduates who have now completed the nine week hospitality training course with Yaama Dhiyaan, 66% have gained employment or moved on to further education.

Things like Yaama Dhiyaan don’t come from nowhere, and in this case it is a long-held dream that holds the key. As a young girl in Walgett with no formal education Aunty Beryl dared to dream. She knew education was the key and dreamed of one day bringing back to the community whatever skills she might learn. At sixteen she was in Sydney working as a nanny in an upper middle-class Eastern Suburbs family.

“Yeah, I had to learn to read then, what with the kids going to Sydney Grammar.” So she did, and that was just a beginning. She remained close to that family and still does.

Her real formal education began at age thirty-one while she was working as a cook at the Murraweena preschool, then in Surry Hills. She worked days and at night studied nutrition and budget cooking at East Sydney TAFE. This was something she felt she could take back to the community.

Then she met a challenge: an invitation to become a trainee teacher for TAFE. “But I have no formal education,” she countered. That, she was told, would look after itself as she had the life skills and knowledge and an ability to communicate.

It didn’t quite look after itself as she found herself working as before, going to TAFE, and undergoing teacher training. When I asked her when she slept she just smiled. 

Graduating in 1988 she went ahead in her new career. When retirement loomed the Redfern-Waterloo Authority made their offer. Here was at last the greatest chance to bring all that knowledge and experience right back into the heart of the community and make a real difference. She decided to give it a go for twelve months – and now it’s three years.

Aunty Beryl has been part of the Redfern community for fifty years now, but her beginnings are with the Gamillaroi people. The Centre’s web site says: “Yaama means ‘welcome’ and Dhiyaan means ‘family and friends’ in Aunty Beryl’s Yuwaalaraay language of the Gamillaroi people of north west New South Wales.”

“A great life,” I read somewhere years ago, “is a dream formed in childhood made real in maturity.” Aunty Beryl would probably reject that applying to herself, but it’s hard to deny.

She wanted to know if this would be a positive story as we had talked a bit about the dark side and the way Aboriginal issues are represented so often in politics and the mainstream media. How could it not be positive? Seeing the college, the students, and meeting Aunty Beryl have been inspiring. Anyone who dropped in would be inspired too – and well fed, if you happen by when food is on offer. As Aunty Beryl told SBS’s Living Black: “We specialise in bush tucker. We might have crocodile – we’ll do that with a lemon myrtle sauce, we might have kangaroo and we’ll just do that with skewers, and make a bush tomato sauce for that, vegetables in some of our herbs and spices.”

But it is the transformation of lives that is the real work at Yaama Dhiyaan. “You can’t forget the past because that is who you are. It’s in your heart,” Aunty Beryl told me. “But we have to move on for the sake of the future generation. Some come here needing their self-esteem building up and we show them they can have confidence, and they do have choices.”

See SSHNOV09.

 

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Something else to brag about…

… and other miscellaneous bits.

1. Something else to brag about

Australia ranked No. 2 for quality of life.

AUSTRALIA has the second best quality of life in the world and could pip Norway for top spot next year, the author of a UN report on migration and development says.

Australia was ranked second among 182 countries on a scale measuring life expectancy, school enrolments and income in the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Report 2009, published yesterday.

The US slipped a spot to 13 and Britain was steady at 21, based on the latest internationally comparable data from 2007. Niger ranked lowest, followed by Afghanistan and Sierra Leone…

2. Who’d be Malcolm Turnbull right now?

The latest Newspoll isn’t good news for the Libs.

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3. Gerard Henderson gets it right!

In my opinion anyway, and I quite often disagree with Gerard Henderson.

… The 60th anniversary of the Communist Party victory in the Chinese Civil War was celebrated last week with an ostentatious display of military power of weapons and personnel.

Contrary to some views, the Rudd Government’s 2009 defence white paper is not directed at China. Yet the Chinese leadership should not be surprised if nations such as Australia focus on the possible reasons for China’s military build-up.

Australia’s one-time infatuation with Mao’s China is a thing of the past – as is evident in Bruce Beresford’s fine film Mao’s Last Dancer.

It should not be replaced by passion born of China’s wealth and the business and cultural possibilities this provides.

So far, despite criticism from the likes of Palmer and Hanson-Young, Rudd has got Australia’s China policy about right.

4. Local but global: October’s South Sydney Herald.

Nothing by me in this, but many good articles as usual. It’s been getting better, the old SSH.

Here is your copy: SSHOCT09.

 

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My latest very odd article published

Here it is.

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You folks probably don’t remember when Glebe was one of the “City of Villages” and Clover Moore, our Lord Mayor, had this capsule buried. Yes, the narrow spit of Glebe was once a peninsula! (Sorry we squibbed so badly on climate change, people.)

A colourful place, the old Glebe. Work took me there from Wollongong in 1977 to Alexandra Road – no water views then. Heard of the Bodyline Tour? I lived opposite George Borwick, the cricket umpire in Sydney back in the 1930s and heard a lot about that from him, and about life in Glebe going back forty or fifty years. Next door: Jorge Campano, a Spanish guitarist so good that when he practised I just turned off everything and listened. Then neighbor John Waterford, a former prisoner in Changi and on the Burma Railway, with no hatred for the Japanese. He and his family opened my eyes to politics. I met famous Labor politician Peter Baldwin through them later on. Glebe politics has always been colourful.

Lots was happening: the Church of England’s old lands (or “glebe”) which go right back to the First Fleet chaplain Richard Johnson had been turned into a landmark public housing restoration where they preserved the buildings instead of building more tower blocks. Gough Whitlam did that. Great, but governments change and the project, while still there, has passed to other hands. There was a first too: Elsie, the Women’s Refuge, which had dramas including at least one shooting episode.

I was back again in 1981. After a while circumstances took me to a kind of doss-house close to Harold Park, a bay in your time I believe. They used to have the trots there in those days. Hard to believe, isn’t it? But then the Gadigal could have told you that Glebe was once fifteen kilometres inland compared to what it was in my day, and not on the edge of Sydney Harbour at all.

I sure met colourful in that doss-house. The stoned artist who kept painting the same painting on the same canvas. The schizophrenic Aboriginal woman who ended up making a lot of sense really. She was a member of the Stolen Generation. The retired burglar with whom I wandered back alleys at times, amazed by his powers of observation. The Catholic priest who was a friend of Redfern’s Ted Kennedy. The writer who invited me to become a cocaine import drop box. (I said no.) Real Peter Corris territory!

So many memories…

I didn’t really put this in the time capsule…

You can find it in the South Sydney Herald.

Or read it on PDF right here: SSH_SEP09.

 

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Some reading matter for you

1. South Sydney Herald

The August issue has been out for a week or so. I have been slack about uploading you copy, but it is a good issue. As usual there are plenty of articles that transcend the parochial, but the parochial may also be interesting. Inner Sydney/Redfern is an interesting place.

August 09 SSH — PDF

2. More from Colin Chapman.

I gave Chapman’s Whose Holy City? the thumbs up in Is objectivity about Israel and Palestine possible? Today I give you a couple of substitutes for those without access to the book.

A Biblical Perspective on Israel/Palestine from the Arizona publication EMEU goes into some depth about a more balanced evangelical perspective on the matter. It is for the theologically inclined, more so than the book. EMEU is Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding – and further from John Hagee and company it can hardly be, but it is an evangelical Christian site, remember.

‘Islamic Terrorism’ and the Palestine-Israel Conflict: Christian Response is a special issue of Encounters, a Christian mission e-zine from the USA. Not by Chapman is an article I strongly recommend as it is not too far removed from my own thoughts on the subject: Muslims – Friends or Enemies. (Dr Jonathan Ingleby, 1548 words) – a PDF file. I have added here the abridged version of Chapman’s ‘Islamic Terrorism’:  How should Christians & the West respond?

Chapman PDF

 

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Friday poem 14: not really a poem!

But it could be.

1705 017In Redfern Park

In the latest South Sydney Herald Adrian Spry contributes this on the back page.

Utopian Dream

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan…

On a drear early morning, mid-year and hand-numbing cold. Greyness seems juxtaposed upon grey. The morning mist shrouds the Waterloo towers, making them seem ceilingless. They seem to climb heavenward forever.

Walking – walking downhill. My normally constant chatter with my children is missing. We are all lost in our own thoughts. Coming to terms with the start of a new week. The start of a new day. The grind of everyday life.

Crack!! My eyes snap to the right! What was that? A pistol shot? Ahhh…

Comprehension dawns as my eyes give credence to my mind’s film. I take in the scene.

Martial artists on the basketball court. The “crack” is the snapping of fans in unison as the three artists perform the tai-chi Kata or dance. Brightly coloured as oriental fans are. Exotic. Ancient. As we watch we seem to lighten. Awaken.

And now I notice the green of the grass. The towers and buildings. I see the gardens bright. I sense all this world around me.

Ahh yes… with smiles we three carry on. As we bend the corner into Cooper Street my daughter laughs and skips. My son smiles on. My daughter speaks. “Dad, those Chinese people look great.” They do. Yes. The rhythm of life.

God is great.

 

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July 09 South Sydney Herald

I have a particular interest in this, but the really big news in this issue is the front page story on the approval of the Pemulwuy Project in Redfern.

So here’s your copy of the paper: SSH_JULY_09 pdf

There’s a lot to read in the South Sydney Herald, and it isn’t all parochial; for example Laura Bannister & Robert Morrison give a fuller account of a story published in the May SSH on “abducted” protesters on behalf of Ugandan child soldiers.

And there’s a story by me too, on the book trade.

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You can read it in big writing over the break. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Sunday Floating Life photo 25: Gordon Syron at South Sydney Uniting Church

There is currently an exhibition of Indigenous artist Gordon Syron at South Sydney Uniting Church.

Gordon does not paint dots. "My strength in painting is political", says Syron. "I use satire and raw imagery to send a message that Australian History has left out the Aboriginal people and their stories. Art is a way to convey and tell these stories. By turning around the picture – for instance to dress Aboriginal people in Redcoats and black boots and have white people standing naked holding spears on the shore when the first fleet arrived, as in my painting The Black Bastards Are Coming, it makes people understand and comprehend history in a different way."…

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June 09 South Sydney Herald

Yes, it’s now available.

We have a new issue of the SSH — with front-page stories on Redfern and Erskineville stations (staff cuts on the way?) + inner-city weekend markets (“more popular than ever”). There are also reports on a proposed “mega depot” in Rosebery, plans for an upgrade to Abercrombie Street, Christian anarchist Ciaron O’Reilly’s visit to the Wayside Chapel, Housing NSW tenants at Woolloomooloo, and Kings Cross residents “revved up over threat to civil liberties” (read on …).

Kelly Lane reports on a “Makeover for South Sydney Youth Services” as well as the challenge facing welfare services in a time of recession, Tara Clifford reports on Friends of Erskineville’s opposition to a supermarket in the Hive, and Neil Whitfield reflects on contributions by Redfern residents to a National Human Rights Consultation.

Features include an interview with Louise Hamilton, a Wiradjuri woman and teacher at Darlington Public and Alexandria Park Community Schools, Fraser Studios on Broadway, and Glebe House. Check out the painting entitled ‘Shrinking World’ by Chia Moan (page 11), our very first piece of dance journalism (by Kristy Johnson), reviews of Star Trek, Mr Darwin’s Shooter, The Call and Who’s That Chik?, interviews with Josh Pyke and local singer Charmaine.

Chelsea Reid reports on Five-A-Side Indoor Soccer. Adrian Spry is pleased to report that all five members of the Ravens flock (running group) completed the Sydney Half Marathon on May 17 …

South Sydney Herald June 09

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2009 in Australia and Australian, local, South Sydney Uniting Church, Surry Hills

 

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South Sydney: Pentecost 2009

We had the Tongans in today. The singing was wonderful.

It was a special day, though I missed the afternoon’s activities as I had Sunday Lunch at the Shakespeare with Sirdan and B2. That too was good.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2009 in Christianity, personal, religion, Sirdan, South Sydney Uniting Church

 

South Sydney and other matters

The May South Sydney Herald is out. Nothing by me in it, but I have just been playing boy reporter for the next one – among my activities that curtailed blogging a bit in the past two days.  (Other things included seeing Dr C, helping M, and tutoring plus some additions to my students’ pages.)

First the boy reporting gig. I attended a rather interesting Community Consultation meeting organised by the Redfern Legal Centre at Redfern Town Hall last night. The object of the meeting was to prepare community and individual submissions to the National Human Rights Consultation where public submissions are being accepted until 15 June.

The Consultation is a chance to hear people’s ideas about human rights and talk about ways to protect and promote human rights in the future.

Key Consultation Questions
  • Which human rights and responsibilities should be protected and promoted?
  • Are human rights sufficiently protected and promoted?
  • How could Australia better protect and promote human rights?

One thing that emerged for me is that it isn’t a simple matter. Several speakers drew attention to the big difference between legislating rights, or enshrining them in a “Bill of Rights”, and the actual situation in practice and in hearts and minds. We had a range of people including a former asylum seeker who had been in immigration detention for seventeen months but finally made it; interestingly he didn’t see his treatment (he was from Bangladesh) as having been racially motivated, though he did have quite a lot to offer about the system. There were speakers also from the Indigenous community, GLBT, disabilities and multicultural agencies. The chair – and he did an excellent job – was Professor Stuart Rees from the Sydney Peace Foundation.

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From last night.

(Dorothy just interrupted this post dropping off my bundles of South Sydney Heralds so later I will “do my rounds”.)

Second, another South Sydney matter that doesn’t concern me immediately: The Ravens. Andrew from South Sydney Uniting Church along with several others is running in the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon on 17 May, raising money for Breast Cancer Network Australia. Support the Ravens here.

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May 09 South Sydney Herald PDF

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, events, human rights, local, multicultural Australia, South Sydney Uniting Church

 

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Sunday Floating Life photo 14 – Easter Sunday

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South Sydney Uniting Church

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, Christianity, local, South Sydney Uniting Church, Sunday photo

 

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