In the 1960's the NSW government built masses of housing for low income earners. They envisaged communities who would thrive in communal spaces so they built common play areas, interconnecting pathways that ran alongside and behind blocks of adjoined houses and their common walls. These were known as Housing Comission projects.
It was a grand idea in theory that was a monumental failure in practice terms of building the community in a unified manner. Whilst there were many low income earners or people in need who genuinely benefitted from affordable rents, after the introduction of the 'dole' in the 1970's they often became a hub intergernerational welfare dependancy - to the point where we are now seeing up to four generations of families in the housing commission environment who had never worked by the 2,000's.
And in those graffitied labyrinth like pathways that weave around and behind those housing blocks is where our first investigation this year begins to take place in our series of 'real life stories' on the border of the Sutherland Shire and St George area's in Southern Sydney.
The young man knew he was not allowed out so he did what all teenagers do - lied to his parents - about where he was. He was not meant to be visiting friends in this housing commission block, nor did anyone know he was zipping around on his Razor scooter on those pathways, alone at 10:30pm on a cold, drizzly and misty night in Sydney.
As he headed home along the pathway between the houses he heard something that wasn't overly odd - the sound of someone calling out. He stopped and looked and realised that the odd thing was that someone was calling out to him - was it a cry for help? He stopped and looked back at the source of the sound - no one was there. He was aware of a story whispered around this block in hushed tones - that a mother and baby had been run down accidentally in a terrible automobile accident many, many years ago. Not only had something terrible happened but there was a grisly reminder - people often saw the mother pushing the child in the pram around the block and vanishing in plain sight.
He pushed these thoughts out of his mind. He was Aboriginal and his family had grown up with many spiritual experiences - why would something like this faze him. He continued on his way.
As he came around the corner of a tiny cul-de-sac he heard the cry again. This time he looked and there not 20 metres from him - a lady pushing a baby in a pram - in the freezing cold night in the peak of a blustery southerly wind. He watched as they walked toward him and then dematerialize before his eyes. He kicked his scooter as quick as his feet would push it along with the echo of the racing wheels bouncing off the buckled and scribbly tagged colourbond walls.
"Sir, you should do an investigation eh" He said to me as he recounted the story.
And so, the investigation begins - with the search for the details of the mysterious lady and child. Is this story rooted in fact or another urban myth. Is there another darker force at work here, mimicing a dead person. Checking with Births, deaths and marriages, newspaper articles and questions for long time residents are our starting point. It's time for us to take a walk down those dark alleys, past groups of young men in hoodies dealing in danger to find out what is really going on.
God bless you - Pastor Baz.