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    City of Sydney names public spaces in honour of women social reformers

    The City of Sydney has honoured early champions for women’s and children’s rights by naming new parks and public spaces in their honour.

    Publisher and leader for women’s suffrage Louisa Lawson, social reform campaigner Nita McCrae, and pioneer for early childhood education Frances Newton, each now have public spaces named after them:

    • Louisa Lawson Place – a public place bound by Kent Street, Sussex Street and Napoleon Street
    • Nita McCrae Park – a new pocket park in Millers Point
    • Frances Newton Reserve – a new pocket park to be constructed at Palmer Street, Darlinghurst

    According to lord mayor Clover Moore, “Each of these women had a vision of making Sydney and Australia a fairer and more equal society and their hard work towards this goal continues to benefit our communities today.”

    Suffragette and newspaper owner Louisa Lawson (1848–1920) was a noted social reformer, writer and publisher. Born in Guntawang, near Mudgee, Louisa relocated to Sydney in the late 19th century where she founded the influential Dawn magazine, which covered women’s issues in Australia and overseas.

    The magazine was a commercial success and Louisa expanded her printing plant to employ 10 women.

    “As founder of the Dawn Club in Sydney, Louisa provided a forum for women to participate in discussion and debate, and gain experience in public speaking – and she achieved this while independently raising five children, including her son Henry, who became one of Australia’s best loved poets,” says Moore.

    Council has given in-principle support to name a public space bounded by Kent Street, Sussex Street and Napoleon Street “Louisa Lawson Place” – a site near the location of the former Dawn magazine office.

    Nita McCrae (1925–1995) was a local resident and founding member of the Millers Point Resident Action Group, who campaigned against the state government’s plans to relocate residents and redevelop The Rocks in the 1970s. McCrae enlisted the assistance of the Builders’ Labourers’ Federation to impose a green ban on the precinct and bring all work to a halt.

    Council has given endorsement for a new pocket park in Millers Point to be named Nita McCrae Park, recognising this work.

    “Nita McCrae mobilised the local community to protest against redevelopment of this important historical area, and was an inspiring figure in the struggle to protect The Rocks,” says Moore.

    Located in front of the Abraham Mott Hall and Harry Jensen Centre, the pocket park is on the site of a former bus and tram terminus.

    Influential early childhood educator Frances Newton will also have a new pocket park named after her at the site of a former kindergarten in Darlinghurst.

    From 1902 to 1905, Frances Newton served as principal of the Sydney Kindergarten Training College and was responsible for expanding free kindergartens in Sydney.

    The former kindergarten was built for the Kindergarten Union in the 1920s and was previously named in her honour. This naming continues that commemorative tradition.

    Construction of the pocket park is due to start early next year. It will include a nature play area, open lawns and garden beds, while a community garden will provide space to grow fresh produce and meet neighbours.

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