Aurora Dinner

(7.30pm 25 June 2011, Town Hall)

Thank you, and good evening everyone. A very warm welcome back to Town Hall. I would like 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 present.

I also acknowledge Your Excellency, Sir Nicholas, distinguished guests, GLBTI friends.

The first Aurora Dinner, held over a decade ago, was the initiative of group of friends who had already given much to the gay and lesbian community through involvement in key community organisations.

Their strong commitment remained and with it was desire to continue to help by raising funds raising funds for the community.

The result was the first Aurora Dinner - an opportunity to get together, and importantly dress up and have a great night out, while helping the community.

Some of Aurora's founders are here tonight, and I acknowledge you.Other people have since taken up the reins, ensuring the Dinners have continued as an annual event. Your volunteer efforts have raised thousands of dollars for important projects within the Gay and Lesbian Community.

The City of Sydney has been a proud supporter from the beginning. We are committed to equality and full recognition for the GLBT community and the work of the Aurora Group is a great example of how self-help builds community.

Since the first Dinner, there has been important progress in achieving equality - including the passing last year of my Same-Sex Adoption Bill.

But significant issues remain, including full equality for same sex relationships, and ongoing concerns about discrimination, harassment, crime and safety.

The City of Sydney will continue to stand with you on those issues.

Last year when we became the first Australian local government area to endorse the Declaration of Montreal.

This aims to put GLBT rights on the agenda of the United Nations Human Rights Council and calls for the recognition of fundamental human rights. It also addresses global community issues ranging from the right to asylum, the need for awareness-raising campaigns and the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Aurora - through this dinner and through other events during the year - supports important initiatives such as counselling and youth services - last year contributing more than $100,000.

Tonight's evening in Gay Paris is the main fund-raiser for the year, so be generous when it comes time for the raffles and auctions. I've provided two tickets to our New Year's Eve Party at the Opera House to watch the fireworks which this year are designed by the talented Marc Newson.

That's part of the first prize in the main raffle, so I'll look forward to meeting the lucky winner on December 31.

So, once again, welcome back to Town Hall and have a great evening.