Moya Farrell, 1940-2000

Issue 

Moya Farrell, 1940-2000

BY ZENY GILES

NEWCASTLE — Moya Farrell's activism began at university when she joined a protest outside a hotel in South Yarra, Victoria, which refused to serve Pacific Islanders. She proudly held up a sign which said, "South Africa, South USA, South Yarra".

After coming to live in the Hunter Valley 32 years ago, she and her husband, Bob Bergout, were at the forefront of making Newcastle a nuclear-free port. She served a week in jail in 1984 for entering the naval base at Cockburn Sound to protest against the presence of US nuclear ships and was arrested several times subsequently for her anti-nuclear activities.

Moya claimed that the cancer she lived with for her last 14 years gave her the freedom to become a full-time activist. As signs of secondaries recurred, she would undergo treatment, make radical changes in lifestyle and focus even more clearly on the injustices around her.

Moya vigorously pursued land rights and just compensation for Aboriginal people because she considered that both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians stood to benefit from a "just settlement". Out of her efforts to consult with the local Koori community came the Yamuloong project in local schools, the Jack Doherty scholarships for Koori students at the University of Newcastle and the 1993 Hunter Commitment to Indigenous Australians, signed by thousands.

Moya enjoyed being a gadfly and she loved to shock. She insisted on keeping her family name at a time when this was unusual.

She was a forthright feminist and championed ceremonies that celebrated womanhood. Her funeral, many aspects of which she had planned, was conducted by women and included a ceremony to cleanse the church of "the sin of patriarchy".

Moya was honoured with the Peggy Hill Peace Award in 1987 and with the City of Newcastle Medal in 1999. She has a proud legacy.

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