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Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Page: 1015

Mr HAYES (9:51 AM) —A special job requires a special person. Today I would like to talk about Sister Kerry Macdermott, who is a member of the religious community of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor, better known as the ‘Brown Nurses’. Sister Kerry lives at Minto and oversees a very active Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, which is run by the Diocese of Wollongong. Sister Kerry helped found the Winga Myamly Minto Reconciliation Group in 1993; each year it organises a memorial ceremony at Cataract Dam on the site of the Appin massacre of the Dharawal people in 1816. Her efforts in establishing proper recognition of the massacre have seen the realisation of an opportunity each year for reconciliation and healing for the Indigenous as well as the European community. In 2007 Sister Kerry spent three months working in a remote Aboriginal community outside Alice Springs, tending to the needs of those people. In February 2008 she travelled to Canberra with a group of local Indigenous people to hear the historic apology from the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

What makes Sister Kerry so special is her total commitment to the people who need help—in particular, the Indigenous people of south-west Sydney. Sister Kerry has upheld the order’s aim of assisting the poor in their homes and always giving them the utmost respect and love. Every day there is an example of this respect and love. Sister Kerry is fearless in her approach and certainly goes out of her way to ensure that she is respected at all levels of government. Sister Kerry has always gone about her work in a way that draws people to her. I very much recognise her strong will, which is necessary for her advocacy, but she certainly displays tenderness and empathy that make the most vulnerable, particularly children, feel wanted and secure. She is always ready to assist anyone in need, whatever the time of day or night, and her own needs are usually placed second to the needs of others.

Sister Kerry is not one to seek praise or recognition for her work, as her love for those she cares for and the desire to improve their situation are her only ambition and driving force. Her whole being is dedicated to acting for and loving the poor, and her respect for people, whatever their origin or circumstances, is her trademark. Sister Kerry is a woman to whom the community owes a great debt. She is truly a great Australian and the community of the south-west of Sydney are very much privileged to have known her. It is certainly my privilege to be associated with Sister Kerry Macdermott.