In the late 1990s, following completion of Grief Counselling, provided by Social Work employees of ACON’s Hunter Branch for bereaved parents of the Hunter Region whose children had died in the AIDS epidemic (1985-1996), the parents involved determined to :1) produce a booklet depicting AIDS Quilts from the region, and
In 2003, the project director of the publication TWO STARS noted that Newcastle Council proposed to close a disused small road off Cowper Street, Carrington – industrial sites existed along its southern perimeter. She suggested the derelict land situated immediately to the south-eastern side of the bridge, opposite Connolly Park, would be an excellent location to develop a Community Park to include the desired grove of trees. The location was also most appropriate in that some years before the Carrington community had opened its heart in accepting, in its residential area, the establishment of McKillop House (once St Joseph Order’s convent). For many years, AIDS outpatients from beyond Newcastle, and their relatives, were accommodated and cared for here and mixed freely with Carrington residents without any hint of the rejection and stigma experienced everywhere else during those years.
The same project director was also a long-term Volunteer and Adopt-a-Park Coordinator with NCC’s Community Greening Centre. With support from this Centre, a proposal was put to the appropriate Council officers that a Community Memorial Park be established here. ACON Hunter Branch personnel were seeking a venue for the annual World AIDS Day gathering as the small site used for this purpose at John Hunter Hospital was being built over so there was support for the proposal from this group. So it came to pass that Council obligingly provided grass cover on the neglected site in time for the 2004 gathering on 1st December to mark World AIDS Day and people in attendance planted two Tuckeroo trees on the northern edge of the grassed land.
By early 2005 sufficient funds had accrued from book sales to provide the finance needed for the manufacture and installation by Newcastle Council of a handsome park seat facing Cowper Street bridge and Throsby Creek, on the parkland’s north west corner. This seat was dedicated at the 2005 World AIDS Day event, honouring our Hunter Region’s sons and daughters who had died from HIV/AIDS during the 10 years’ epidemic (by 1996 drugs had been developed and made available which reduced dramatically the mortality rate in the HIV-infected population in Australia).
As well as completing the Park seat, Council workers had prepared the ground along the southern boundary ready to receive mass planting – the grove of trees’ beginning! So on this same day, 1sr December 2005, people attending the ceremony were invited to choose and implant whichever tree/shrub (river oak or grevillea) they wished. The adjacent industry (Hunter Valley Signs) agreed to our use of their tap and water for the plantings whenever it was needed.
During the following year, the same company removed the ugly wire fencing and erected a tall powder-coated steel fence along its entire boundary with the park, greatly improving the appearance of the park and the grove of native plants. Following our request, Council agreed to provide mounding on the northern side of the park high enough to accept a large Hill’s Fig tree, to be named the Tree of Love, and supplied and planted in time to be dedicated on World AIDS Day, 2006. A Carrington industry, GRAINCORP, undertook the costs of these earthworks and the Community Greening Centre provided the tree. All came to fruition by 1st December 2006.
It was determined to repeat the above with a Hills Fig tree for the 2007 World AIDS Day event, to be named the Tree of Hope. ACON-Hunter would undertake the funding of further earthworks (extending the mounding) and the supply and installation of this tree. Unfortunately, the Council was not in a position to complete the earthworks during 2007, so World AIDS Day was marked by plantings in a row behind the existing seat.
Due somewhat to miscommunication and also to a large tree-planting project taking place along Cowper Street’s carriageway on the south side (enhancing the edge of the Community Park), planting of the second fig tree was overlooked but a plaque-in-readiness was prepared and dedicated on World AIDS Day 2008.
Photos by Judith Gatland, World AIDS Day, 1 December 2008, Carrington
This year (2009), a number of AIDS Quilts were displayed on the lawn, and a marquee and morning tea was provided by ACON-Hunter to mark the occasion. Discussion took place regarding extending the use of the Memorial Park to both the local and general community, and ways of involving more community members in the Park’s care. Also canvassed was the need for a place to be seated under shelter, perhaps for a picnic gathering, or to enjoy the increasing positive ambience of park surroundings. For five years, Adopt-a-Park volunteers from Carrington Residents Action Group (CRAG) and from ACON-Hunter (4 or 5 people only) have maintained and supported the park’s development and it was decided that now it was timely to reach out and encourage broader community ownership and use of this valuable asset.
To this end, in 2009, with ACON-Hunter as auspice organization, and with encouragement and promised ongoing support from Council’s Community Greening Centre, CRAG, Graincorp, and possibly other Carrington-based industries, an application was made for funding from Council’s Community Grants 2009-2010 to provide a sheltered picnic table/benches. The application was partly successful in that Council provided and installed the desired table/benches as well as appropriate signage identifying the space as the Community Memorial Park, all in time for the gathering and its dedication on World AIDS Day, 2009.
Funds have been donated towards providing an appropriate shelter over the picnic table but are insufficient to meet the cost of the Council-specified shelter. Our sub-committee (TWO STARS Project) with the support of ACON Hunter Branch are now seeking the funding required for the shelter’s provision – hopefully to be ready for the World AIDS Day function in 2010.
Mannie and Kendall Present: LESBIAN AND GAY SOLIDARITY ACTIVISMS
Click on to each section below to visit all SPAIDS and HIV/AIDS web pages:SPAIDS PART 1 - SYDNEY PARK AIDS MEMORIAL GROVES HOME PAGE
We have also set up a site with AIDS quilt panels [see HIV/AIDS Part 5]to help people understand the AIDS Quilt Project)
World AIDS Day Australia
Mannie De Saxe also has a personal web site, which may be found by clicking on the link: RED JOS - HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISM
Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:
MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)
Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009
RED JOS BLOGSPOT (from January 2009 onwards)
Page created on 12 July 2009 and updated 21 FEBRUARY 2017