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Redfern remembers Thomas Hickey

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 19 February 2004


The Aboriginal community of Redfern in Sydney has held a memorial service for 17-year-old Thomas Hickey this afternoon.

Music and dance were used to help remember Mr Hickey, who died on the weekend after being impaled on a metal fence while riding his bike.

His death sparked riots in Redfern on Sunday night, with Redfern residents accusing police of chasing Mr Hickey at the time of his death.

The service began with the playing of a didgeridoo and a traditional welcome to more than 300 mourners.

Local minister Bill Simon says it is frustrating that the community is brought together so often by grief.

Pastor Simon has been a minister in the area known as 'The Block' in Redfern for the past three years and says while Thomas Hickey's death has unified the community, it is another example of a young life taken too soon.

"Do we have to wait for more people to die before it brings people together? All I've been doing lately is taking funerals," he said.

Thomas Hickey was described as being full of happiness, joy and laughter but deprived of opportunity to achieve his potential.

In front of flowers, candles and a photo of the teenager, a local resident performed a traditional dance as a way of blessing his family and 'The Block'.

Democrats Senator Aden Ridgeway prompted applause from more than 300 mourners as he spoke of the challenges facing the Aboriginal community.

Senator Ridgeway said Thomas Hickey's death was an opportunity for healing and called for young members of the Aboriginal community to come forward and take on responsibilities.

A funeral for Mr Hickey will be held next week.

In other developments:

Federal Opposition leader Mark Latham has criticised the parents of young children involved in Sydney's Redfern riot on the weekend.


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