Over the course of this Glebe Society year there have been several significant impacts upon the Glebe community. In August the opening of the refurbished community facility at Franklyn St Park provided a much needed space for people who were requiring a venue in which to provide after-school activities for “tweenies”. It was largely due to the promotion of the concept to the City of Sydney Council by then deputy Lord Mayor Robyn Kemmis, that the redevelopment was undertaken. Consequently the recent decision by the Council to rename the park adjacent to the facility, formerly known as “Elephant Park”, as the “Robyn Kemmis Park” is a fitting tribute to this much mourned Glebe resident.

Ilknur Chaloupka, the manager of Elsie Women’s Refuge in Glebe, addressed the management committee in early December 2015, and amongst other information about changes wrought at the centre due to the change of management following the “Going Home, Staying Home” State Government initiatives of 2014, discussed the needs of then current resident families, especially as Christmas approached. Consequently a timely appeal was made to Glebe Society members for gifts and clothing to assist these families. The response was positive so we were able to deliver items donated by 20 members. They included books, clothing and toys for the children as well as some Coles/Myer vouchers for each of the Mums.

Hopefully the items donated made a positive difference for those families at a difficult time in their lives. It is the intention of the subcommittee to make an annual call-out for support for such families when details of the number, ages and gender of Elsie residents become available in late November each year. Support for other Glebe residents, whether short- or long-term is an admirable hallmark of the Glebe community.

The annual Sunset Soirée for Centipede took place in late October 2015 and was enjoyed by more than 70 guests. It raised $6460 (nett) with an additional $2866.45 coming from the Quilt raffle. This annual event is to continue in 2016 with co-hosts from the Glebe Public School P&C committee. As that revitalised body values the support of the wider community, including the Glebe Society, as an important element contributing to the future of Glebe’s children, their involvement is most welcome.

John Gray, a past Glebe Society president and an initiating member of “GlebeCAN” with the assistance of Richard Spencer has been pursuing this important strategic project involving the analysis of gaps and overlays in social agencies” supply in Glebe. GlebeCAN has proceeded with analyses of both sources and uses of social funds and an analysis of social supply from Glebe NGOs. Through the development of cooperative social action with the City and ongoing research through the University of Sydney and Glebe Community Development Project (GCDP), its objective is to culminate in placing Glebe as a case of Village based social capital competing effectively and efficiently with NGOs. This relates closely to the City of Sydney’s Social Sustainability Policy, about which TGSI has made submissions.

The Elsie Walk Mural is nearing completion. After the tragic death of one of the artists, it was decided to include a silhouette of her in the artwork to honour her contributions to Glebe. A private family commemoration was also held at the wall on the anniversary of her passing. Glebe Society member Katharine Vernon, together with Aunty Kathy Farrawell and family members hope to proceed to completion and dedication of the mural shortly.

Nick Hespe, the manager of the City of Sydney Glebe Service Centre and his partner accepted an invitation to dine with Glebe Society members at Thirsty Thursday on 7 July at Esca. As many Glebe residents know, Nick frequently goes above and beyond his job description, and for this we are both thankful and privileged. It is therefore fitting to recognise his contribution to our community.

The play structure which has lent its name to the park colloquially known as “Elephant Park”. The park is to be officially named “Robyn Kemmis Park” (image: Laura Appleyard)
The play structure which has lent its name to the park colloquially known as “Elephant Park”. The park is to be officially named “Robyn Kemmis Park” (image: Laura Appleyard)

Following the untimely and unexpected passing, as 2015 was drawing to a close, of Cr Robyn Kemmis, a long term resident of Glebe, members of the Glebe community from all walks of life met to plan a tribute to her. Three initiatives arose from that meeting and all were actuated. On Sunday 1 May a community picnic was held in Foley Park. It was supported by the City of Sydney and Lord Mayor Clover Moore, who counted Robyn as a friend as well as colleague, spoke. Other speakers, too many to name here, but from all sectors of the Glebe Community recalled anecdotes and extolled Robyn’s contribution to our community.

A second initiative, to create a scholarship to assist an indigenous woman with her tertiary education at UTS was established. Verity Firth, as the committee chairperson, steers this process, and it is pleasing to note that donations had reached the first year’s target within a month or two of its first public appeal. Consequently applications will be opened shortly, and the introduction of the 2017 recipient to all donors who can attend will take place at a reception on 27 October this year. This is a most fitting tribute as Robyn was very supportive of women’s education and creating opportunities for indigenous young people to seek advancement. Her support of the Glebe Youth Service, the Glebe Community Development Project and Centipede at Glebe Public School can all attest to that.

The third initiative, the naming of a park in Glebe in Robyn’s honour was prosecuted by Glebe Society President Ted McKeown. As previously mentioned, this process is currently underway through the City of Sydney Council and we hope to see the dedication before the end of the year.

Finally congratulations should be extended to Stuart Davey of the Glebe Justice Centre and Ally De Pree-Raghavan for the establishment of the Glebe Legal Outreach Service. It is to operate from a dedicated space in Glebe one day per week. It will provide free legal advice and help by legal practitioners from the Redfern Legal Centre and Legal Aid NSW who will staff the centre on alternate weeks.