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Valé Liz Ramage (1930–2012)

Liz Ramage was ahead of her time. With others, she built the South Sydney community. As a young woman, she was part of a disparate group of church-people who formed the South Sydney United Parish – ahead of the Australia‑wide Uniting Church. The group also worked for the founding of South Sydney Community Aid. In this way, South Sydney was established as a community, rather than a disparate collection of villages, which it was, and to which it is, maybe, now returning reports Barrie McMahon in the May 2012 edition of The South Sydney Herald.

In later years, she was, with Edna Turvey, the power behind the Arts & Crafts Exhibitions, part of South Sydney Festivals. Also with Edna she ran the Darlington Recycling Group which collected paper, glass and metal, until the councils got the message. The group also published the notorious Neighbourhood Witch, that, in its way, anticipated Trevor Davies’ Chippo-Politics Newsletter which grew into the South Sydney Herald. In her retirement, she worked at The Bower recycling centre in Addison Road.

Liz was also a friend of Aborigines. Over the years she lived in three houses on Caroline Street, facing The Block. She said of her friends: “Some are community leaders, some just survivors, and some at the bottom of the heap.”

When apartheid was rife in South Africa, a public campaign against it by the Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon of the Pitt Street Uniting Church (now an editor of the SSH), led to her persecution by National Action. Their campaign included, at its less violent end, much racist graffiti, particularly around railway stations. Liz Ramage led the team that painted out the graffiti.

The authorities of the day could not see the difference between their sin in allowing the racist graffiti to remain and Liz’s virtue in removing it.

Liz was born and educated in New Zealand. As Dr Elizabeth Aitken she worked as a medical officer in the NSW Health Department. She retired early so that she could (in her words) “meet other people on the level”. She is survived by a son, Ian, and his extended family in Cambodia, and her extended family in Victoria and New Zealand.

Lizzie spoke from the coffin at her Pitt Street Uniting Church funeral. We read aloud an affirmation of faith (creed) written by Liz. The concluding verses are:

We believe in the Church – human, fallible, often lost – but keeping the story alive. The story of the In-the-beginning word, the Jesus of history, the living Christ of now and forever. We believe that when the story is truly told – the hungry are fed, the dumb sing, the blind see. And the prisoners go free.

She also spoke through her son, Ian, who read a long letter Liz wrote to the Rev. Bill Crews with detailed instruction on improving his fund-raising.

Predictably, Liz’s coffin was made from recycled cardboard, and we had the opportunity to scrawl farewell messages on it.

Source: The South Sydney Herald May 2012 –