Saying Farewell To A Legendary Advocate

By Anglican Family Care | Posted: Monday November 8, 2021

It is with sadness that we acknowledge the passing of Anne Turvey on September 1st, 2021.

Anne was an integral founding staff member of the Anglican Methodist Family Care Centre, employed by the agency in its formative years from 1970- 1976. Anne recounted and shared her memories from those early days - many of which are documented in our 50th anniversary publication ‘Southern Service’, which was launched in April this year.

Anne made a significant contribution to her community not only through her work but also her time on various committees, boards and in local governance. It was a pleasure to spend time with her at the book launch and she will be sadly missed.

We offer our heartfelt condolences to Anne’s family at this time.

We asked some people who worked alongside her to share some memories with us.

Anne Turvey was involved in Family Care from its very beginning. When Family Care’s doors first opened on 27 May 1970 for an ‘experimental year’, Anne was there as the first Director’s office assistant. Anne, along with Bob Walton and Beverly Russell, Family Care’s first social worker, occupied in three rooms on the same floor as the Methodist Central Mission in the newly-opened tower block on the Octagon, and from there began the innovative social welfare agency which has served Dunedin for the past 51 years.

For that first year, the agency was so experimental it didn’t even have a budget. Anne and Bob Walton had been working from the Anglican diocesan office in lower Stuart Street. Still paid by the Anglicans, they just moved up the road and brought their office equipment with them. After that first twelve months, when it became obvious there was a clear need for the service, Order of St Stephen volunteer Beverley Russell went on to run the nearby Citizens Day Nursery, the Methodist office took over the clerical work and Anne Turvey became the Family Care social worker, being paid the princely sum of $1 per hour.

In the eight months after Family Care was officially established in June 1971, Anne Turvey and Bob Walton took on 140 new client families. Anne managed the donations of practical help – food, clothes and household equipment – and found space to store them in the new Mission building. She and Bob Walton had been involved in the Group Life Laboratory movement and were interested in the dynamics and therapeutic benefits of informal group meetings. So from August 1972, she began to gather mothers and their small children together once a week, drawing volunteers from both churches to help with activities, hospitality and a simple lunch. She also set up another small friendship group in South Dunedin.

Thus was born the Thursday Group, which ran for the next decade and was a lifeline for hundreds of lonely parents in need of support and friendship. Anne was still doing a lot of administration but found time to study for the first social workers’ certificate course run by the university. After attending a conference in Australia in 1975, she saw the need for the coordination of child abuse services and introduced a regular meeting of the various agencies working in this field.

Logo designed by Anne in the late 1970's, which appeared on Centre letterheads, newsletters, and annual reports throughout the 1980's — Image by: Anglican Family Care

Along with her other talents, Anne was an artist and designed the first Family Care logo, which served the growing agency until the mid-1990s. She left the agency in 1977 to pursue a career in local government, having helped set a strong and stable base on which the next generation of social workers could build with confidence. - Julia Stuart

Anne saw a need and would seek to do something about it. She was passionate about social work, and particularly the lives of the single itinerant men, women and families that we dealt with on a daily basis. The Thursday Group, was created because Anne asked clients that came to us what they really needed by way of support.

I commenced work at AMFCC in January 1974, when we were based in the Methodist office, Bob had his own office, and Anne and I shared a small room that was also used to interview people. When a client needed ‘private space’ I would go out to the Methodist office area to work.

Anne was undertaking interviews, administration, and social work tasks. I recall that she was recording very neat client details in a hard-covered notebook, and one of the first things we discussed was creating a client recording system, hence my first task was to design a client intake form!

She also wanted to ensure that correct information was recorded for the future, even to the extent of upsetting some people! She had little time for ‘fools, or do-gooders’ and was adamant that good accurate records needed to be kept, so the correct story could be told, hence her writing up the first history of AMFCC.

Anne maintained a life-long interest in social services, and particularly AMFCC; she would telephone me regularly to have a ‘chat’ and catch up. I will miss those calls.

She was a forward-thinking person, who battled for better services for women and families, and was a forerunner in the social work field.

I remember her telling me that she stood for council in the hope that she would be able to facilitate change for people, particularly families. She was intensely loyal to the South Dunedin area, even after her and Dick moved to St Leonards.

Anne, was aware she ‘upset some people’ by her honesty but she relished the challenges faced both in social work and her time as a city councillor. She suffered fools lightly, and hated wasting time on mediocre matters, that could be resolved quickly.

She enjoyed creative writing and was a Member of the Dunedin Writers Group, she also encouraged me in my own poetry writing attempts. Anne saw writing as an important form of expression.

Image by: Anglican Family Care

She loved spring, the new flowers, she and Dick managed the big garden at St Leonards. Anne enjoyed the pleasure of gardening. Both her and Dick were members of the Sawyers Bay Garden Club, and Dick were regular contributors for many years.

I really enjoyed working with Anne, she was honest, caring, funny, and genuinely cared for people, I will miss our regular catch-ups.
I recall something she said recently – “It was never about me Lynne, it was always about the people." - Lynnette Campbell

Anne Turvey was not only unwavering in her support of and belief in Anglican Family Care, she was a woman warrior for her beloved St Kilda neighbourhood and the people of South Dunedin. Anne always gave people confidence to carry on. - Hilary Allison

As a new social worker in the Department of Social Welfare, in 1977, the work of Anglican Methodist Family Care Centre, or ‘Family Care’ as it was known, was legendary in the sector. Bob Walton was a regular visitor to the office, and Anne Turvey’s name well known. The DSW in those days responded to the most acute issues of care, providing for children in the aftermath of abuse and neglect. Care placements for children were provided by Family Care, who offered support to families in the most troubled circumstances. There was extraordinary collaboration across the health, education and welfare departments led by visionary individuals desperately looking for answers for entrenched situations within families.

In 2003 I was appointed Director of AMFCC, and I well remember Anne speaking at an agency AGM. I forget the year, but we were in the Bath Street meeting room downstairs. Anne told the story of her own life in a most frank and colourful way, and you could have heard a pin drop in the room. She disclosed details of her own personal hardship and challenges as a child, and together we gained a sense of her incredible vision, strength and determination to work for change. She went about this in a very quiet and unassuming way, but her fearless approach and no-nonsense reaction were an inspiration to all of us in the most thankless profession of responding to poverty, hunger, shame, despair and abuse. It all came together that night, listening to her story and the vision for change - an ethos which underpins every aspect of the work of the agency. The compassion and commitment of all staff continue in the 21st century, carrying out the very early legacy of Anne’s work.

Anne speaking at the agency's 40th birthday celebration and AGM — Image by: Richard Budd

In 2010, the agency celebrated its 40th birthday, and the idea formed of writing a history. Anne, myself and Jane Jones formed a small committee and began the work of gathering up the threads of research and storytelling. Julia Stuart picked this up to write the history ‘Southern Service’ released in 2021. The work was tedious at times as records were searched and interviews done of key people. The final book is beautifully written, and Anne was able to attend the book launch.

Thank you, Anne, for your support and hard work, and you will be remembered as the agency’s first social worker. It was fabulous to have you there on the 50th birthday celebration. You set the foundation for amazing achievements far-reaching in their impact. We who have been in the profession a long time joke about the ‘cynicism’ - you had a fair measure of that, as you critiqued the pretentious and half-hearted - but you were also kind and sincere in your approach.

Thank you, and our love to your family. - Nicola Taylor

It was my great pleasure to meet with Anne this year when celebrating the launch of our book, particularly given Anne provided a link to the origin of our agency. Over several phone calls, Anne shared with me her recollections of those early days alongside our first director, Bob Walton, in what was a very different time. 

But some things have remained very much the same - Anne’s desire to support those who were in need is still very much at the heart of the current day Anglican Family Care Centre. We owe so very much to the legacy created by those who had the foresight, energy and genuine care to start us out on this journey.

Mike Williams (General Manager) and Anne Turvey talk at the book launch for Southern Service in April this year — Image by: Sarah Thornton

We farewell Anne with sadness but thank her for a life so obviously dedicated to the betterment of the lives of others. She will be well remembered by all who have been a part of Anglican Family Care. - Mike Williams