Tribute to Sherron Dunbar
This garden was planned after the death of the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau’s highly respected settlement worker, Sherron Dunbar. It acknowledges her work and the work of that organisation’s many settlement workers. We especially remember her Friday afternoon walks when she would go to Enterprise, gather people to walk with her to the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau where should would talk to them about Australia and the services which were available.
In welcoming people to the event Merle Mitchell said: Six years ago when we first met to discuss a possible exhibition at the Melbourne Immigration Museum who would have thought that the recording of this wonderful history would still be continuing today.
But here we are at this very special place – the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau, a place which many of you from the South American countries simply referred to as ‘No 5’. It is wonderful to be recognising this place as the second site in the Trail of sites which were, and still are, significant to the lives of refugees and migrants in our community.
This was the organisation that piloted many innovative and important programs which were later adopted nationally. This was the organisation which got its first funding to employ a social worker as a result of an offer from the Department of Immigration, NOT because we had sent a funding application.
This was the organisation which for years had every Minister for Immigration address its annual general meeting. This was the organisation that had access to the heads of relevant national and state government departments on a regular basis.
We had discussions, sometimes tense, but we often successfully argued our case, though sometimes we failed. Two spectacular failures that come to mind were our arguments against the establishment of the first detention centre at Port Hedland and the operational changes at Enterprise that led to its inevitable failure. In the later The Springvale Council joined us as equal partners and came with us to Canberra to argue the case on three separate occasions. Council representatives even outnumbered Bureau representatives, it was a wonderful fruitful partnership. But the inevitable happened and Enterprise closed, a decision that many people now admit was a mistake.
So why did we have such amazing access to those in power? It was respect for the work we were doing and the arguments we presented. Our arguments were always based on real life stories – probably some of the stories of people who are here today. We were able to explain the impact of policy changes on individuals and families by forcefully using those stories.
And that’s what the Spirit of Enterprise project continues to do. It tells the stories giving policy makers and the community the opportunity to learn – in this case the way in which rich, diverse, harmonious communities can be built. They are your stories and we thank you for sharing them with us. You have created a project of national significance.
It was officially opened by Mr. John Bennie, the CEO of the City of Greater Dandenong on 17 November, 2013 in the presence of many of Sherron’s family, former residents of the Enterprise Hostel and workers from Enterprise and the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau. Mr. Bennie acknowledged the importance of the Enterprise project and the strong support the project had among Councillors and Council staff.
.The wording on the plaque in the garden states
In recognition of the pioneering work of the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau (SCAAB) in settlement services for migrants and refugees; in particular to honour the magnificent contribution of Sherron Dunbar, through her broad understanding of world affairs, her empathy and compassion for people of all backgrounds, and her unswerving commitment to social justice and human rights