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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (20 April) . . Page.. 940 ..


MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer): Mr Speaker, I move:

That the Assembly expresses its deep regret at the death of Miss Sylvia Curley, OAM, who made a significant contribution to nursing and the heritage of Canberra, and tenders its profound sympathy to her family in their bereavement.

Mr Speaker, it is with much sadness that I, and I am sure many others, learnt of the recent death of Miss Sylvia Curley at the age of 100. Miss Curley was one of Canberra's most outstanding citizens. Born at Duntroon in 1898, she was one of three daughters of Elizabeth and Patrick Curley. The family moved to live in the stone cottage at Mugga Mugga in 1913 after Duntroon estate was sold.

Miss Curley's achievements in her three careers of nursing, personnel management and environmental management demonstrated her adaptability, her determination and her foresight. Completing four years general nursing training at Goulburn Base Hospital, Miss Curley later qualified in obstetrics at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney. Her early years of nursing were spent in the New South Wales country region, where she rose to the position of matron at the Gundagai Hospital. Miss Curley's commitment during this time to improving the living and working conditions of nurses is well remembered. In 1964 Miss Curley's dedication to the nursing community was recognised when the new nurses quarters at the Canberra Hospital were named after her. Miss Curley retired from nursing in November 1966 after 28 years of dedicated service to the Canberra Hospital. At that time, she held the position of deputy matron.

Following her retirement from nursing, Miss Curley established an employment agency at Manuka. She managed that business successfully for 20 years. In recognition of her services to nursing and to the Canberra and District Historical Society, Miss Curley was awarded the Medal in the General Division (OAM) in the Queen's Birthday honours list in June 1992.

In 1994 Miss Curley offered Mugga Mugga, with its historic cottage and 17 hectares of land, to the ACT Government for use as a site museum and environmental education resource. Miss Curley worked tirelessly to fulfil her vision and that of her late sister, Evelyn, that Mugga Mugga should become a resource for the people of Canberra. She was overjoyed when her gift was accepted, and she herself guided the conservation of the cottage and the building of the education centre. The fact that the centre was built and furnished through the generosity and dedication of local businesses and tradespeople is a measure of Miss Curley's persuasiveness. The Mugga Mugga memorial education centre was opened in November 1995 and dedicated to Evelyn Curley.

A special mass of thanksgiving celebrating Miss Curley's 100th birthday was held at St Christopher's Cathedral at Manuka in November last year. I am sure everybody who was there found it a wonderful service and a wonderful thanksgiving for a great life. At the time of her death, Miss Curley was still lobbying for better conditions for nurses, for

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