10 May 2023

Lifetime of knowledge is lost with Shirley's passing

| Sarah Martin
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Shirley Costello is being remembered as a tireless educator and community advocate.

HOPE Vale is mourning lifelong educator and community champion Shirley Costello, who recently passed away.

Ms Costello was a tireless teacher and leader, playing many vital roles in community organisations during her working life, including as a teacher at George Bowen Memorial Kindergarten and Hope Vale school.

She is fondly remembered for her warm smile, love of music and willingness to get things done, as long as she was able to stay behind the scenes.

“Her favourite instrument was the bass,” Hope Vale mayor Jason Woibo said.

“She liked to be in the background playing, having a little bit of a jam. She was just a cheery person, bigger than life with a really good heart and always smiling.”

Cr Woibo, who called Ms Costello “Aunty”, said he was extremely proud that his first speech as an elected member was written by Ms Costello.

“I am very proud of that, that she got to write that for me and I got to read it,” the mayor said.

“I would like to acknowledge her contributions to our community as a councillor and in her many other roles. She will be sorely missed by the community.”

Ms Costello was also a member of the Hope Vale Church Council, a Hope Vale Aboriginal Shire councillor, a Director of Hope Vale Congress Aboriginal Corporation and a women’s group leader.

One of her more widely-known roles was as coordinator of Hope Vale’s Indigenous Knowledge Centre, where she championed the recording, preservation and sharing of Indigenous culture and the Guugu Yimithirr language.

“Shirley Costello was a true champion of lifelong learning,” a spokeswoman for the State Library of Queensland said.

“Shirley was the first Hope Vale Indigenous Knowledge Centre Coordinator and worked closely with State Library of Queensland’s Indigenous Services team to deliver a library service to community.

“She was a passionate advocate for keeping Guugu Yimithirr
language and culture alive, through initiatives like delivering weekly radio sessions and developing bilingual signage at the centre.”

The spokeswoman said Ms Costello would be remembered for her famous quote: “It started with the message stick, and we continue today with the memory stick,” when she addressed the opening of the Hope Vale IKC in 2008.

“State Library extends its condolences to Shirley’s family and friends,” the spokeswoman said.

Ms Costello is survived by her children Ainsley, Roland, Dustin and Kamaree, her grandchildren and their families.

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