From the start, our Independent Team has endeavoured to put Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities first - it’s no accident that our first public artwork was in Redfern and our first major park upgrade was Redfern Park.
When we asked the broader Sydney community, they told us emphatically that they wanted to know more about the Aboriginal owners of our city, who survived the years of first contact, and whose descendants live here today.
Working in partnership
Our work is now guided by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols, which commit the City to working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents, and the Principles of Cooperation agreed by the City and the Metropolitan Land Council.
We are now advised by an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel, which initiated the Eora Journey - in the Gadigal language, Eora means ‘the people’, so ‘the people's journey’ - a visionary series of projects that visibly demonstrates our commitment to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Sydney.
Detailed research into Sydney’s Aboriginal history and heritage resulted in the 84 page Barani/Barrabugu (Yesterday/Tomorrow) booklet published in 2011. There is now also a walking trail that celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and places while telling the story of Aboriginal life in Sydney.
Recognition in the public domain
From late 2015, all new park signage will include a welcome in the Gadigal language, “bujari gamarruwa”, meaning “good day” and the words “You are on Gadigal country.’ Existing signage at Redfern Park, Hyde Park, Alexandria Park, Victoria Park and Yellowmundee Park, five sites of significance, is being replaced with panels incorporating the Acknowledgement of Country.
We have installed three (of seven planned) public art projects:
- Welcome to Redfern, the striking mural covering an entire terrace house in Redfern.
- born in darkness before dawn, a film work comprising larger-than-life images of Aboriginal women project on the blank, windowless wall of the Australian Museum for three months from November 2013 to February 2014.
- Yininmadyemi Thou didst let fall, the significant new artwork by Aboriginal artist Tony Albert which acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who served in the nation’s military in Hyde Park.
- Work is now underway on the most complex of the seven projects, which has the working title of Monument to the Eora.
Significantly, we are developing an economic development plan, which will provide a framework and actions to improve educational, employment and business opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Already we are taking steps to improve our internal procurement policies to be able to work with local Indigenous suppliers of everything from graphic design to office supplies.