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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (20 April) . . Page.. 944 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

For 40 years she was a nurse, for 30 of them in the ACT. She chose nursing as a career because it was a way of helping people. It was a service to others. In that work, she was a pioneer in education. She fought very hard for her nurses, for their education and for better conditions, and she was much respected. After her retirement from nursing she spent a further 20 years running an employment agency. Again, she did that because it was a service. As she explained to me, it was helping other people, particularly young people, to make the transition to employment or to find employment.

After her retirement from business, she carried on her service when she became an activist working to establish a memorial for her parents at Mugga Mugga. Again, it was a service to the community. She set out to restore the cottage and to build an education centre around it. I would ask Mr Stefaniak whether he would carry on the notions that she would have presented to him when he and Dr Kemp were to go and visit her. I think we should carry on those ideas, because by no means is that centre, as we now see it, complete in the way she would have wanted it to be.

The Curley family moved to Mugga Mugga in the same year as the laying of the foundation stone for our new capital, 1913. She saw the ACT grow from a scattering of rural properties to a city of over 300,000. During the century she saw the world change in ways that no-one could have imagined at the start of the century. But she kept up with those changes. In her work as a nurse, she was ahead of her contemporaries. She also recognised that links with the past are most important. She recognised the value of our heritage, and hence the work at Mugga Mugga. She set out to make that a memorial to her parents, but of course it is more than that. It is a memorial to Sylvia Curley herself.

I think that the life of Sylvia Curley, and of others like her, is essential in determining our identity in the ACT. Of course, there are many other factors involved as our society has changed dramatically over the years. As we reflect on her life and as we honour her as one of our early rural pioneers, we honour her as one who struggled with others to gain a hold in this area and who worked through the century for her fellows, providing a service and pioneering in other ways. She was a remarkable woman, and we honour her.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care): Mr Speaker, tomorrow it will be exactly three months since I was fortunate enough to have afternoon tea with Sylvia Curley. She invited me to her home where she made a cup of tea. I suggested on a number of occasions that perhaps it would be better if I boiled the jug and poured the tea. As many of you know, Sylvia Curley insisted that she do it. It is a rather interesting experience to have a cup of tea made for you by a 100-year-old moving the teapot and teacups on to the tray of her walking frame and bringing them to the table and pouring the tea. She insisted at all times on calling me Mr Moore and I, in return, called her Miss Curley. I give this little insight because other members have spoken broadly about her life and the contribution she made, something we are all aware of.

There was a purpose to the afternoon tea with Miss Curley. That purpose was to ensure that I understood her view on issues to do with the Canberra Hospital. It was really interesting that there was no attempt to refer to it as the Royal Canberra Hospital or by some other term. She was thinking about the issues facing the Canberra Hospital.

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