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Awarded for service to the Community
Entered on roll: 2005
We needed pride in this community. We needed something to smile and laugh about and we needed to stop being told that we were bad or naughty or in some way not doing it right. (Cris, ABC Stateline 2004)
Cris Fitzpatrick worked tirelessly to make Bridgewater-Gagebrook a better place to live by improving the economic, social and physical environment of the area. Having lived as a Housing Commission tenant with two young daughters to support and limited job skills, she had first hand experience of the struggles being faced by others in her community. By her efforts, belief and dedication she inspired confidence and pride in the residents in these public housing communities.
Several years ago Cris started the Women’s Room with limited resources. From this she founded and directed the Bridgewater and Gagebrook Urban Renewal Project (BURP) in 1996. Cris generated community enthusiasm for BURP initiatives and was instrumental in changing the lives of residents and community perceptions of the area. Projects initiated by BURP have included adult literacy classes, tree planting programs, women’s self defence classes, a needle exchange service, a youth nightclub, community festivals, sporting rosters, and, a home loan scheme. A symbolic turning point occurred when the Christmas float made by local primary schools won the Best Community Float in the 1998 Hobart Christmas Pageant. The Bridgewater-Gagebrook community went on to win seven awards in the 2001 Tidy Towns Competition.
BURP has made a real difference to the lives of people in the Bridgewater-Gagebrook communities. Reduced vandalism and crime rates, a visible improvement in community pride and national recognition as one of the most successful community development projects in Australia are a testament to its success.
Cris was elected to the Brighton Council in 2000. In 2002, she was appointed to the Tasmania Together Progress Board. She received a Centenary Medal in 2002 and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2003 in recognition of her service to the communities of Bridgewater and Gagebrook.
Cris lost her long battle with cancer in January 2004. Her tireless contribution to the communities of Bridgewater and Gagebrook, which she loved so passionately, are a legacy that will endure for future generations. In 2004, Brighton Council renamed Tottenham Park, the Cris Fitzpatrick Community Park as a tribute to her vision.