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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2778 ..

MR WOOD (12.22): Mr Speaker, Sylvia Curley is a woman of many achievements and, at the age of 100, the achievements continue. It is a rare achievement to live to 100 and we congratulate her today for that; but her achievements are very much more. Miss Curley, in her long life, has not simply occupied a space on this globe. She has filled her life with positive activity, activity of great benefit to this and other communities.

For a start, dedication to the life of a nurse means she is committed to others. She was devoted to patient care and was a leader in nurses' education. Quite properly, the former nurses block at the Canberra Hospital proudly carried her name. Sylvia Curley fought for her nurses, worked for them and their education, but that is her nature. All of us who come in contact with her well know those qualities. She is a strong advocate but with that she has always been a person of vision. The mark of a great person is the ability to convert that vision into reality.

We see that now with the wonderful gift to the people of Canberra of her family property Mugga Mugga. The 17 hectares, the old homestead and outbuildings, and the new education centre will be a monument to Miss Curley. Canberrans who visit there, particularly the young children in whom she is most interested, will gain some insight into Canberra's heritage. They will gain some understanding of the lifespan of Sylvia Curley; how a child born in the last century, into a totally different world, grew as the world of Mugga Mugga, indeed, the whole world, was transformed over that 100 years. She was born before Federation, before Canberra. As the whole twentieth century passed Sylvia Curley was not just a passive witness; she continued her work for others. Mugga Mugga will tell us of the past. It will also tell us of Sylvia Curley. That is not her intention, but it will be the case nevertheless, and I quote from the foreword of her book:

It is not for me that you will be doing this; there is nothing personal in it; it is for the future students and adults of Australia.

Let me conclude with another small quote from her book:

People frequently state that Canberra is a city without a soul. I do not agree. Canberra has a soul but without our heritage we have nothing to build a city on. All the great cities of the world have built their cities on heritage.

Sylvia Curley has done a wonderful job in nurturing for the ACT that soul and that heritage. I join in the well-deserved congratulations, and our thanks.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education) (12.26): I also rise to congratulate Miss Sylvia Curley on attaining 100 years, to wish her many more happy birthdays and also to thank her for her services to Canberra and to Australia.

The name "Sylvia Curley" is intricately intertwined with the history of the Canberra region, as other members have mentioned. Unlike Mr Hird and Mr Stanhope, I cannot claim to have met my wife at Sylvia Curley House, but I did attend a number of functions there when I was a young fellow. Several of my wife's family had the pleasure of nursing under Miss Sylvia Curley when she was assistant matron and during her long time at the Royal Canberra Hospital.

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