Yellow Ribbon Exhibition Opening

(6pm, Friday 18 July 2014, galleryeight, Millers Point)

Thank you, Laura [Hunter, gallery owner]. Hello, everyone, welcome to this wonderful exhibition by Sue Rawlinson.

Tonight, I also want to pay my respects to the community of Millers Point - one of Australia's oldest and one that has for many decades called this remarkable urban village "home".

For close to 200 years, it has been a living example of a close-knit, socially mixed community. In 2003, it was listed on the NSW Heritage Register not only for its historic buildings, but as "a living cultural landscape".

Community can't be bought, nor can it be artificially created. It grows out of long-standing ties between people and people, between people and place.

But the sense of community that is so palpable here in Millers Point is now under threat. In March 2014, just two days after assuring residents no decision on the future of Millers Point had been made, Minister Goward brutally announced the sale of 293 properties, home to about 400 residents.

Already this decision is having a devastating impact on individuals and families.

The City has called on the Government to halt the sales, to allow the frail and elderly tenants to remain in their homes. If the sales do go ahead, we said the Government must invest the profits in new social housing in Millers Point and adjacent areas.

Meanwhile, we are funding the Redfern Legal Centre to work with you, and helping the Millers Point Community Defence Group with funds for its work, and the Glebe Society is also giving its support - evidence of the special place Millers Point holds for many Sydneysiders.

And now, Sue Rawlinson - a resident of Bondi - has been moved to create this fantastic exhibition, and to donate some of the proceeds to the residents' campaign.

Wandering around the area with a friend, she was struck by the sense of community spirit, and also intrigued by the yellow ribbons on so many houses.

When she learnt they were to be sold up, she came back here with her camera and began recording the houses and producing this series of mixed media drawings.

There are the houses with pot-plant gardens, some with sculptures or personal knick-knacks in the windows. There's the Bulldogs' supporter whose front verandah is draped with the team's colours. And there are the people, too, who are fighting so strongly for their homes.

Together, these pictures provide a glimpse into a unique part of Sydney, and a remarkable community.

I thank Sue for putting it on record, and for her generosity in contributing to support the Millers Point the special community that it is. I also thank Laura for having the exhibition here, and I'm proud to declare it open.