It was around this time that Father Ted Kennedy, a former chaplain of Sydney University, was granted the Redfern parish. Shocked by the poverty and violence inflicted on the local population, he opened St Vincent’s presbytery up as a refuge to all Aboriginal people seeking shelter from poverty, homelessness and police brutality. Together with local Aboriginal woman Shirley Smith, better known as ‘Mum Shirl’, he initiated many vital local community services that remain to this day, including the Aboriginal Medical Centre and Aboriginal housing on the Block.
Father Ted remained as priest of St Vincent’s for 30 years, and was awarded an Order of Australia medal in 2001 for his services to the Aboriginal community. He died in 2005, and Sydney City Council made St Vincent’s a site of historical significance.
After a long period of development and consultation with the local community, Jarjum College was opened on the St Vincent’s grounds in March 2013. The school aims to preserve Father Ted and Mum Shirl’s vision of assistance and comfort for those in need – an aim that is reflected in the golden statue and profile bearing their likenesses outside the school walls.