Since 2005, The Marg Barry Memorial Lecture has been held annually, to celebrate and continue the work of an outstanding South Sydney community activist, politician, networker, provocateur and former Coordinator of the Inner Sydney Regional Council for Social Development, Marg Barry (1934-2001).

Over the years, the lecture has educated and engaged local residents, community activists and and community organisations on topics such as the changing nature of neighbourhoods and the importance of building electronic communities, the global financial crisis and its negative impacts on social inclusion, and the importance and power of preserving social history.

Previous lectures

She was gut-strong, mind-quick and moral-certain. Therefore formidable. But also light of heart, vivacious, funny and a self-put-down merchant. She was single, single-minded, singular. She was a young woman who had grown old trying to make things fairer and had, therefore, grown fair. She was irreplaceable. She was what every community needs. If this society, Australia, hasn’t got a front line of young Marg Barrys coming on, we’re in trouble.

Barry, who has died suddenly at the age of 66, was officially the Coordinator of the Inner Sydney Regional Council for Social Development until 1999 (when she retired to the Central Coast). Unofficially she was a networker, a provocateur, a community activist, an organiser, more a barbed-wire fence in the path of bureaucrats than a thorn in their sides.

She was sometimes regarded as a character, as happens to those who do not conform. She was the survivor of an era in which the working class of Sydney and especially South Sydney, where she had lived and worked, was a community.

 

Photo: Marg Barry addressing a protest.