Aboriginal History Booklet Launch

(Lower Town Hall)

Thank you, Rhoda, and good morning, everyone. Welcome to our launch of Barani Barrabugu.

I would like as always to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and I pay my respects to the Elders, both past and those here today.

The launch of this booklet marks a small but symbolically important step. It is a step which reinstates the Aboriginal history of Sydney; a part of the Sydney story which for too long has gone unacknowledged in the stories we tell about this place.

In looking to the past we are helping build a stronger future, where Aboriginal culture and Aboriginal people have an honoured place.

Our Sustainable Sydney 2030 strategy - which evolved out of extensive consultations right across the Sydney community - explicitly calls for greater recognition of the special place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

To help us achieve that, we formed our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel in 2008 with representatives of the local community, and I take this opportunity to thank them for their hard work and valuable advice.

We know that international visitors - and Sydney people too - want to learn more about the world's oldest living culture and our 2030 strategy includes our proposal for the Eora Journey, a project which will trace culturally important sites from the Harbour to Redfern.

This booklet is called Barani Barrabugu meaning, in the Sydney language, Yesterday/Tomorrow, to signify the continuity of Aboriginal people and culture in our City.

It is the first step on our Eora Journey, following the City's History Program engaging Steve Miller in January last year to beginning the process of mapping significant sites in the local government area.

Steve, who comes from Museums & Galleries NSW, identified with his team of researchers no less than 255 sites, which were presented to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel in June last year.

The panel was excited by his work and established a cultural Mapping Working Group to advise staff on planning Barani Barrabugu.

With their advice, the History Program has drawn on Steve's research to produce this booklet.

Each of the sites is connected with an historical theme such as civil rights, sport and performing arts. And through its connection with these major themes, Redfern itself is testimony to the continuing vitality of Aboriginal culture.

It makes an astonishing story: archaeological evidence from places across the City shows the unbroken connection which Aboriginal people have with this place. Today, you can see Aboriginal artefacts from the Tank Stream on display in the foyer of our City Recital Hall.

Prince Alfred Park - which we are in the midst of renewing - was an Aboriginal meeting place until the middle of the 19th century, while in the 20th century, another great open space, at The Domain, was often enlivened by the oratory of great fighters for Aboriginal rights like Jack Patten.

In 1938, the Australian Hall in Elizabeth Street became the venue for the first Day of Mourning while in the 1970s, Redfern gave rise to the Aboriginal Legal Service, Australia's first Aboriginal Medical Service and the Aboriginal Housing Company at The Block.

You will see all these things, and many more besides, in this wonderful booklet.

I'd like to also to you about the painting behind me - it is an artwork commissioned by the City as a Community activity for City Open Day 1999, in the lead up to the Olympics. The design of the mural was the concept of Sydney Aboriginal artist, John Moriarty using the slogan; "Give me Sydney any day!" to link the city scape with local Aboriginal Totems. Over 360 people of all ages and cultural backgrounds helped John colour the huge panels of his artwork.

I want to thank our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Advisory Panel for their valuable help, and congratulate them, Steve Miller and our History Program led by Dr Lisa Murray, on this important step forward - not only for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but for all of Sydney.

It underlines that Aboriginal people are intrinsic to our shared story of Sydney, that Aboriginal culture and history permeate the modern city and give it a depth and resonance beyond the everyday.

I'm proud to be here with you today to launch Barani Barrabugu.