Restore family rights to grave.

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Les Darcy was the Australian champion boxer of the early 1910's, until his tragic death at the age of 21 years 7 months in 1917.

I was the family member who was involved with the restoration project for the Les Darcy Family Crypt. For the last few years I have been a carer for various family graves, including the crypt, which led to my taking part in the Newcastle Herald documentary, "Les Darcy: Maitland's Fighting Spirit" by Scott Bevan and Matt Carr, for Les' centenary which was May 2017.

For almost a decade I have been trying to restore the legal rights of family members to access their crypt.

Though there has been no problems with NSW Government departments, mainly the Department of Health and Department of Heritage, who have been pretty good to deal with, the same sadly cannot be said for Maitland City Council who have been difficult, at times insulting, arrogant, one might even say monopolistic.

I was advised by the NSW Board of Cemeteries and Crematoria, that according to the Crown Cemetery Trust in Sydney, the general consensus is in most cases, family members are able to access their crypts at any time. It is straightforward and reasonable to accept that crypt or mausoleum interment arrangements are associated with the cultural practice of family access and visitation.

Maitland City Council uses various reasons, some of them bordering on the bizarre, to justify denying Les Darcy's family members from having access to their vault. Some excuses may of been reasonable prior to the $83,000+ restoration project, which at the time of its completion was hailed as a great success. Yet they still use the same excuses to deny us now!?!

This Council even tried, unsuccessfully, to dissuade and delay us from adding a relative's details to the Celtic Cross, because they preferred we not do so!?! They said to me on various occasions, "Council prefers family not add relatives to the monument, as it might ruin the heritage value of the grave for Council."  It is surprising that a public authority would go to such effort to exclude family members from their own crypt! It was very frustrating and upsetting!

I am very keen about preserving family graves. What is the point of having a very expensive $83,000 restoration project for a family crypt, if you are going to restore it, only to close it up as though it were an abandoned building? I am very concerned that to treat it like this risks undermining all the good that was accomplished by the restoration, and leaves this interesting and unique family crypt, which is also a monument to one of Australia's great sportsmen, vulnerable once more to neglect and deterioration. Surely we should be allowed to perform our duty of care, and inspect the internals now and again, thereby contributing to its conservation and safeguarding it into the future, as well as pay our respects to our loved ones?!

Family interest in their crypt is a display of love, devotion and spirituality, and not "a sick disturbing perversion", as the former Mayor of Maitland Mr. Peter Blackmore said to my cousin Tom Darcy and myself in 2012! 

To use legislation to block family members from tending to their crypt is frankly very disconcerting, disrespectful to the memory of "Maitland's favourite son" Les Darcy, and in my humble opinion, an abuse of power!

Please support my petition to reinstate the legal and traditional rights of my relatives with our grave. Thank you very much!

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