Sod-turning Ceremony: Yininmadyemi Artwork

(12pm, Wednesday 15 October 2014, Hyde Park South)

Hello, everyone, welcome to the sod-turning and cleansing ceremony for the City's first major art-work in our Eora Journey.

This is a proud moment for the City of Sydney as we make good our promise to honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who defended Australia in conflicts from the Boer War onwards.

For too long, their contributions and sacrifice have gone unrecognised, and Ray Minniecon and others started to redress that wrong through the Coloured Diggers project.

The installation of this sculpture - hopefully to be unveiled by Anzac Day next year, which also marks the centenary of Australia's involvement in World War I - is our recognition of those past and continuing contributions.

Tony's work was selected from 14 submitted proposals - and I thank everyone on the judging panel for such a bold and resonant choice.

The large-scale work, in marble and steel, will show four standing bullets and three fallen shells and was inspired by the experiences of Tony's own family from Far North Queensland, particularly his grandfather, Eddie, who served in the Australian Army during World War II.

Like others, Eddie was treated differently to his white comrades after the war and little public commemoration or recognition was accorded them.

It is fitting that this important memorial will be located here in Hyde Park South. It was one of Sydney's best loved and most visited public spaces; it is home to the Anzac Memorial and it was also once an Aboriginal ritual contest ground, the cross-road of traditional walking trails, and a significant site for ceremony.

It is a powerful and moving work that will honour those once-forgotten people and bear witness to the continuing contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to this country that we share.