A long-time activist for peace and justice, Stephen Darley passed away on 15 April 2022, aged 66.
He is of great loss to his family, friends and comrades and the organisations which he served with such commitment.
Stephen is described as a man of towering intellect, encyclopedic memory, a gifted speaker, a dear friend of generous spirit and a staunch comrade.
Stephen Darley migrated to Australia with his family from the north of Ireland in 1976, initially to New Zealand and then permanently to Australia in 1978. He was proud of and true to his working-class Irish heritage.
He never abandoned his working-class roots, fighting against economic exploitation, inequality and imperialist wars.
Stephen passionately believed that an informed and mobilised grassroots mass movement is decisive in changing the world for a better place for people and the environment.
He lectured at the University of Adelaide after gaining his bachelor of arts and subsequently his master's in environmental studies. He was an executive member of the People for Nuclear Disarmament (PND) in the 1980s, as well as a member of the Australian Independence Movement (AIM).
Later in the 1980s, the South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA) was formed and Stephen was a representative at its national conferences. SARAA's platform was the environment, peace, land rights and non-violence. It was the leading peace group in South Australia during the first gulf war.
A split in the organisation led to its demise, with those wanting to retain it as a grassroots movement – which Stephen supported – and those wanting to go into parliamentary politics, hence forming The Greens.
He was an active member of Network Opposing War And Racism (NOWAR), which spearheaded opposition to the Iraq War in Adelaide and one of the key organisers of the 16 February "No War on Iraq" rally in Adelaide in 2003.
In 2008, Stephen, with others, established the South Australian branch of Spirit of Eureka.
In 2014, he joined the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) and helped to convene the organisation's South Australian branch. Stephen subsequently joined the coordinating committee of IPAN as its South Australian representative, making immense contributions until his passing.
For many years he maintained a regular radio program on the community radio station Radio Adelaide, stimulating public discussion on issues of peace, Australian independence and social justice. Stephen was also an activist with IPAN's Living Incomes For Everyone (LIFE) campaign.
The work Stephen put into the 2021 IPAN Peoples Inquiry, into the costs and consequences of Australian participation in U.S.-led wars, reflected the value he placed on listening to everyday Australians. His most recent contribution to IPAN’s developing policies was his co-authorship of an alternative defence policy for an independent Australia.
From 2021 to '22, he was one of the founding members of the national anti-AUKUS coalition and played a key role in its interim working group.
Stephen’s dedication to peace and justice, his work in IPAN and many years in the anti-war movement, and his wisdom and knowledge, will be missed by many.
Tributes to Stephen Darley from friends in IPAN include:
His towering intellect and generosity of spirit were such an inspiration.
Stephen’s contribution to IPAN was immeasurable — and irreplaceable.
Personally, I will miss Stephen's intellect, voice, action and wisdom. His input to IPAN was mammoth. A very much loved and respected member of IPAN.
“He was one of the absolute rocks on which we built the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network; a member of the coordinating committee as well as other working groups. We are all devastated that he has passed away, much too young.”
I have known and worked with Steve for more than 30 years. First met him as a very young and enthusiastic delegate from Adelaide at the first national conference of the Rainbow Alliance in 1989 in Brisbane. He and my friend Jim Sharp and I became close friends and confidantes from that time on. Then, with the upsurge in peace-movement activity around Australia in the aftermath of September 11 and the "war on terror", we conversed almost weekly, using the new medium of email!
His passion for socialism and Marxism, for environmental justice, for the ongoing struggle of the working class and for peace and nuclear disarmament was an inspiration to many — as was his particular ability to read and research widely and deeply on the underlying aspects of the social issues we faced. We, on the IPAN committee, will all miss him greatly.
“I will miss his warm friendship, insights, sense of humour and unflinching commitment and confidence that the ordinary people will prevail in the struggles for peace and an independent and just Australia.”
And from the IPAN Facebook page:
A dear friend, comrade and dedicated member activist of Independent and Peaceful Australia Network. Your legacy of striving for justice, a peaceful and independent Australian foreign policy and staunch opposition to wars of aggression will live forever. You've been an inspiration to many.
Rest in peace.
Stephen Darley was an Independent Australia contributor; you can read his articles here.
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