Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture

David Hunter Memorial Lecture: 15 years on

28 Nov 2018 - by Katherine Waite

Muriel Bamblett presented the 2018 David Hunter Memorial Lecture on children in out-of-home care which was held at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture on the 9 October 2018. The Centre has been hosting the David Hunter Memorial Lectures for the last 15 years.

Muriel Bamblett with Jeanette Mathews

Above: Muriel Bamblett with Jeanette Mathews. David Hunter pictured on the left.

The event was organised by ANTaR ACT which is the local branch of Australia’s main non-indigenous organisation for reconciliation. There is a story on the ANTaR ACT’s website which you can read here.

St Mark National Theological Centre lecturer Dr Jeanette Mathews offered a welcome on behalf of Executive Director of the ACC&C Stephen Pickard and shared these comments:

Thank you Aunty Agnes for your generous welcome.

I’d like to offer an apology from Professor Stephen Pickard, director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, who is unable to be here to welcome us tonight.

If he were here I am sure he would speak of the vision of this Centre as a place for interface between faith traditions, Australian society and culture, and as a place to bring indigenous and non-indigenous peoples together. The overarching ethos is to be a place that seeks wisdom for the common good. Our public lecture tonight on a critical issue of indigenous well-being fits right into that ethos.

David Hunter was my husband, and together with his parents Doug and Jan and our sons and wider family we are very grateful that this Centre has extended its hospitality for this memorial lecture for the past 15 years. After David passed away in December 2003 one of my greatest fears was that we would eventually get on with our lives and he would fade into the background. But soon after some members of the local ANTaR group visited and asked if it would be possible to hold an annual lecture in his memory. What a fantastic way this has been to keep this passion of his alive – his commitment to indigenous rights and reconciliation.

My family is currently sorting out and packing up to move house and I came across the draft of a letter David had written to Professor James Haire – the former director of this centre – just a few weeks before he passed away. I was to deliver the letter after his funeral. The Centre was not very old and this chapel was the only substantial building at the time. I thought I would read part of the letter to give you a sense why it is so appropriate that we continue to meet here each year. He began by indicating that he wanted to invite donations following his death to be evenly split between this Centre and the Canberra Journey of Healing Network. He wrote:

“I have not had very much involvement with the Centre, but have appreciated its emphasis on ecumenism, reconciliation, justice and a broad exploration of spirituality.  In addition, I know well and am encouraged by the involvement of Thorwald Lorenzen, Lowitja O’Donoghue, Tim Costello and Dawn Casey.  The Centre has shared a good relationship with St Mark’s National Theological Centre and this donation is also in appreciation of the encouragement I have felt as a post-graduate student in that context.  I would be pleased if the money could be used in some way to support educational opportunities for indigenous or third-world students. Please accept the enclosed cheque with my best wishes for the ongoing work and development of the Centre.”

That letter gives you a little flavour of the sort of man he was, writing so graciously in the face of his imminent death.

I want to take this opportunity to express my personal thanks for your presence here, and to our guest speakers for this lecture, and most especially to thank the small but energetic ANTaR ACT committee that continue to work hard to make this annual lecture such a success, and an opportunity to continue to work for reconciliation and indigenous rights.