Gail Hickey, the mother of Aboriginal teenager TJ Hickey, who died after falling off his pushbike and becoming impaled on a fence after being followed by police 12-years-ago, says she's one step closer to a permanent memorial after meeting with the NSW government.
On Wednesday morning Hickey met with Brad Hazzard, the NSW minister for family and community services and social housing, to discuss her continued push to have the small park where her son died renamed the TJ Hickey Memorial Park and to have an official plaque placed at the site of his death.
"After years of meetings I walked out of this one feeling happy about things," Hickey told BuzzFeed News.
Hickey's lawyer Tony Earls, who accompanied her to the private meeting with Hazzard, told BuzzFeed News the minister would visit the area with Hickey and allow the community to keep a makeshift sign at the park that reads "TJ Hickey Park".
"He gave Gail an assurance nothing is going to happen to that sign. He doesn't know how things are going to be solved in terms of a permanent plaque, because there are plans in that area for new building projects, and who knows if the park will be there in 10 years time?" Earls said.
The Hickey family at the site of TJ's death.
It's a small glimmer of hope for Hickey who met with the former minister Victor Dominello when he held the portfolio of Aboriginal affairs last year.
"[Hazzard] agreeing to physically come to the park is a big step, no one has done that yet," Hickey said.
TJ's death was the catalyst for the violent Redfern riots which made headlines around the world and highlighted the tense relationship between the Koori community and police.
Every year, Hickey has led a march on the anniversary of TJ's death, demanding another coronial inquest and for a plaque to be erected at the site of the incident. A plaque hasn't been erected because of the NSW Police's refusal to endorse a line about TJ dying after a police pursuit - a claim they reject.
“The NSW Police have no business in determining the words that a family put on a memorial to their lost child. The NSW Police don’t make it their business to go to non-Aboriginal people and tell them how to memorialise their departed,” Greens MP David Shoebridge told BuzzFeed News in February.
Hazzard is expected to make arrangements with Hickey in the coming two weeks.
"Obviously, nothing is resolved, apart from the assurances the sign won't come down, but he wants to address her concerns. He thinks this should be an ongoing conversation," Earls said.
Formerly with BuzzFeed News, Allan Clarke is a NITV reporter based in Sydney.
Contact Allan Clarke at arielle.benedek+AC@buzzfeed.com.
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