Sydney Festival Reconciliation Action Plan Launch

(9.30am, Friday 26 July 2013, Lord Mayor's Reception Room)

Thank you, Chris [Tooher]. Good morning, everyone, welcome to the launch of this important document. I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.

I would also like to offer a very warm welcome to Sydney Festival board members and staff; to the City's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel; to the Festival's Black Digger Advisory Group; and to Karen Mundine who is here representing Reconciliation Australia.

As Chair of Sydney Festival, I am proud that we are among the first cultural groups to formulate a Reconciliation Action Plan.

In 2008, when Prime Minister Rudd made the nation's apology to the Stolen Generations and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as a whole for the pain caused by past attitudes and policies, he said he hoped that it would mark a new chapter in our country's story.

To make good on that hope, we need real action on a range of fronts. We need to actively engage with indigenous communities - not only with remote communities but with the vibrant inner-city communities in places like Redfern.

And that engagement needs to take place across the whole range of our City life: in education, in sport, in the professions, in government and in the arts.

Perhaps above all in the arts because the arts have such power to provoke us to thought, to reflect us as we are, and to inspire us to what we could be.

And also because it is through the arts that we can best convey what is unique about our time and this place that we inhabit together: and who better to express our spirit of place than those who have lived here longest?

In more recent years, Sydney Festival has presented aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.

And through our Eora Journey, the City is moving to make Sydney's indigenous story - past and present - a strong thread throughout our City.

Sydney as a whole can only benefit from stronger relationships between our indigenous and non-indigenous people. This Reconciliation Action Plan is another step towards building that relationship.

I'm proud to support it. And I'd now like to ask Karen Mundine to address us.