Aunty Lucy Lester - A Tribute

By Ian Dempster

Posted in News

Aunty Lucy was one of the early Congress leaders involved in the formation of Congress and was at the meeting on Elcho Island in 1983.

I first met her in the mid-2000s, when she was living at Port Augusta and was a member of both the Uniting Church and the Congress Church.

It was at Port Augusta that she became a mentor for Aunty Denise, now Rev Dr Denise Champion. This was particularly significant when Aunty Denise was supply minister at the Port Augusta and Quorn Uniting Churches for 11 months in about 2008. This was before Denise became a candidate to be a minister.

Some years later Aunty Lucy travelled with us to Putatja, to an Anangu Women’s Camp at which Aunty Denise and Rev Helen Richmond were speaking. This was a precious time. It was great travelling with Aunty Lucy on the land as she not only knew the languages, but everyone knew who she was.

Lucy participated in the laying on of hands at Denise’s ordination. She also gave her a beautiful painting that she had painted and she gave Julia Lennon a painting of a cross when she was commissioned as a bush chaplain – the first and only Aboriginal woman in this ministry with and through Frontier Services. Lucy was a great encourager for Aboriginal women to be involved in developing their ministry and leadership skills.

The first time I saw Aunty Lucy’s artwork was at Gawler NCYC 2005, when she presented Rev Ken Sumner with an Aboriginal bush last supper painting. This artwork now hangs at Uniting College, Yarthu Apinthi, and features in the Bible Society book of First People’s art, ‘Our Mob, God’s Story.’

As well as being mother to three children, Lucy was a great support to her husband, Yami Lester who as a child was blinded by the Maralinga atomic bomb tests. They worked together at Mimili and in Alice Springs with the Institute for Aboriginal Development (IAD), where Yami worked with the late Rev Jim Downing.

Lucy was also in demand as an interpreter throughout her life in Alice Springs, Port Augusta and Adelaide. Indeed, she was still volunteering as an interpreter in the Port Augusta prison into her early 70s providing comfort to the many Anangu there. She also provided great support to her daughters, Rose (now deceased) and Karina, in their fight against nuclear dumps in SA.

We offer our deepest sympathies to Aunty Lucy’s family and community at this time.


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