Aunty Pat’s legacy lives on

THE recent death of Worimi elder Aunty Pat Davis-Hurst was mourned by many, though her legacy and her words will live on in ‘Sunrise Station Revisited’, her acclaimed book that her husband Ray Hurst has donated to local schools.

A Worimi elder, Aunty Pat passed away on April 20 after suffering a stroke. In ‘Sunrise Station Revisited’ she recalled her life on Sunrise Station, later known as Purfleet 

Mission. 

After being born in a humpy at Sunrise, Pat received limited education in the mission school. However, in 1975 she was employed by the NSW Department of Health as an Aboriginal health worker at the Purfleet Baby Health Clinic. 

This was the beginning of a long career as a health worker, teacher and human rights activist for Aboriginal people.

During her time as a health worker in the 1970s, Pat saw a strong need for a comprehensive Aboriginal health service and was instrumental in founding the Gillawarra Aboriginal Medical Centre in 1980 and later the Wonnai Aboriginal Corporation. In 1984 Pat worked from home so she could nurse her daughter, who later died from cancer aged 17.

Pat held a large number of voluntary positions throughout her professional life, including director of the Redfern Aboriginal Legal Service, president of the Purfleet Ladies Auxiliary and board member of the Housing Commission of NSW. 

In addition to her community work, Pat and her husband Ray raised a large family. They had six children of their own and adopted two of Pat’s half-sisters from 12-months old.

In 1993 Pat was awarded as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of service to Aboriginal people and in 2003 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Newcastle for her lifetime dedication to the 

promotion of justice for her people.

In 2006 Pat was given the honour of becoming an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her service to the broader community, through promoting awareness of reconciliation, indigenous culture and history, and land rights; and for advising, assisting and mentoring indigenous people. 

Following her death, Myall Lakes MP Stephen Bromhead paid tribute in the NSW Legislative Assembly, by tabling a Community Recognition Notice of her life and achievements on May 29. 

Pat’s husband Ray is determined to continue educating the community about the work of his wife and her book will be used in schools, including Tuncurry Public School, as a resource to assist students learning about Aboriginal history.

“She enlightened people about our culture in a good way. Her books will go on forever and I think it’s important to make sure all schools in the area have access to her words,” he said.

“I still get emotional when talking about her. Her books let people know what happened in Aboriginal history.  

“Some of our own people don’t know as well as non-Aboriginal people. Her book will help to fix that.”

Ray estimates the books, which have been given out free of charge, would have a retail value of more than $22,000. 

There are also plans, in their early stages, to digitise Pat’s works. 

Ray has spoken to Taree and Great Lakes libraries about the project, and he said there had also been interest from the Newcastle University library. 

Museum planned to honour Worimi author

A MUSEUM dedicated to the life of Worimi Aboriginal elder, the late Pat Davis-Hurst AO, AM is on the planning agenda for 2013.

Spearheading planning and fundraising for the museum is her husband, Ray Hurst, who has kicked off the idea with the establishment of the Sunrise Historical Society Account.

The concept is in the early stages of planning, according to Mr Hurst, but the objective is to create a museum to focus on her life, achievements and the issues she championed for the Aboriginal community.

Initially sales of Sunrise Station and Sunrise Station Revisited, two books authored by

Pat Davis-Hurst, also known as Aunty Pat, would be directed into the Sunrise Historical Account. Mr Hurst is currently visiting and donating class quantities of the book, Sunrise Station Revisited, to local primary and high schools in the Manning area. He said that each school would be invited to make a donation to the Sunrise Historical Society “but it is absolutely up to them, they don’t have to donate to the project.”

Mr Hurst also intends to offer Aboriginal Artefact Lectures from August 1 and is keen to visit schools, attend local business meetings or community organisation functions. He said any funds raised from the lectures would be by donation as payment and then directed into the Sunrise Historical Society Account.

For further information contact Mr Hurst on 0401 875 560.

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