NAIDOC Week Thank You Morning Tea

(11am, Monday 11 August 2014, Lord Mayor's Reception Room)

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Town Hall.

I also want to welcome the Elders here today, the members of the City's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel, the NAIDOC organising committees, the workers and the volunteers for your tremendous work in making NAIDOC 2014 a truly outstanding success.

This is my opportunity to thank you all.

An amazing 6,5000 people - the largest turn-out ever - came to this third NAIDOC in the City and I'm told they included families, students, business people, tourists, fulfilling Auntie Millie Ingram's dream of a real cultural exchange, right in the middle of the city.

This year's NAIDOC Week theme was "Serving Country - Centenary and Beyond" and in the lead-up to the ANZAC centenary, we are working on a fitting memorial in Hyde Park South to all those Aboriginal servicemen and women who served their country during war.

I believe Tony Albert's design, for a site by the ANZAC Memorial, will create a powerful place of contemplation, of recognition and remembrance for all Australians, and I look forward to seeing its completion by April 25 next year.

NAIDOC Week in Hyde Park North offered an even broader array of stalls and activities, from weaving to Dreamtime story-telling to dance workshops that intrigued and engaged everyone. Staff across the City were involved, from Children's Service to Youth Services and many others.

One of the great successes of the day was the earth-oven created by David Beaumont. The prospect of marinated kangaroo, emu, crocodile and chicken slow-cooked on rocks and local leaves had even our normally strict parks staff intrigued, and they gave their blessing for it.

How fabulous to think we can have a genuine traditional feast right in the middle of this 21st century global city! I believe that hundreds of people, enticed by the aromas, were queuing for up to three hours. I'm only sorry that I was away and so missed out.

So thank you, David, and many thanks also to Luke Carroll, who was a fabulous MC, to all the singers and performers who kept things pumping, and to all the staff and volunteers who used your skills, imaginations and sheer hard work to make it such a wonderful event.

I'd also like to thank our partners: the Sydney Harbour Foreshore authority; Sydney Observatory; the Australian Museum; the Australian Defence Force; Taronga Zoo and Vibe Australia.

I can't finish today without acknowledging the sad loss of the founder of Vibe Australia, Gavin Jones.

Gavin was a dynamo, tireless in his work to replace the destructive, negative stereotypes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with strong, positive and joyous images.

He founded Vibe Australia, and developed a radio program, a magazine and, of course, the Deadly Awards, all aimed at highlighting the achievements and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and empowering the next generation through positive imagery, stories and celebrations.

Vibe Australia has run NAIDOC in the City for the last three years and brought it to the point where it now is, and I am confident it will continue to flourish.

Everyone who knew Gavin pays tribute to his enthusiasm for the task in hand, his infectious demeanour, his generous and supportive nature and his professional smarts.

He will be sorely missed by many, and I would like to offer our condolences to his family and his friends.

Gavin above all nurtured new talent, so can we now all welcome our singer, Gemma Summerhayes.