Naidoc Week Opening Celebrations

(1.15pm 2 July 2012, Hyde Park North)

Thank you, Luke Carroll, MC and hello, everyone. Welcome to Hyde Park! I would like to thank Auntie Millie Ingram for her Welcome to Country. And I would like to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders.

While NAIDOC Week has been going for many decades, this is the first time we have held it here, in the green heart of our city - we are moving the City's NAIDOC celebrations to another level.

As many of you will know, in 2008 we established an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel to guide us on a range of issues, including the establishment of an Eora Journey through the city and a cultural centre or keeping place.

The formation of this Advisory Panel recognises the important past and future contributions of your people and gives you a say in the formation of policies and projects.

It is a continuing dialogue to actively engage the City's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities - a dialogue that can only benefit your communities and enrich the life of our City.

It's another reason to be celebrating today, and throughout NAIDOC Week, the very important role of our Aboriginal communities and your vibrant culture you have preserved through many thousands of years which continues to enrich the life of our country.

By holding our NAIDOC Week opening ceremony here, it also gives non-Aboriginal Australians the opportunity to learn about your great culture that lives in our midst - still strong after 40,000 years.

We hope this celebration will promote greater appreciation of your culture - as well as give everyone a very good time, of course.

There's certainly plenty here today, with outstanding singers and dancers, food stalls including bush tucker, activities for children, Elders' stories and traditional medicines to learn about.

Throughout the week, the City of Sydney is hosting talks, films and exhibitions and there are activities including an Open Day at Tranby, a Sports carnival and Rugby League at Redfern Oval next Sunday.

So on behalf of the City, I wish you all a wonderful time today and an enjoyable week of celebrations.

Thank you.