Redfern Terrace Street Art Program

(2pm, Saturday 23 March 2013, Redfern Community Centre)

Thank you, David [Beaumont, MC]. Hello, everyone, welcome to this exciting launch. 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.

A special welcome today to Auntie Millie Ingram and to Chicka Madden and Nicole Monks, whose mural in the Elders' Lounge is being unveiled today, and also to those businesses who were generously supportive of the project.

I'm also pleased to welcome Hetti Perkins, curatorial advisor for the Eora Journey, and of course, artist Reko Rennie and the Street Art workshop participants, who created the magnificent artwork on the Redfern terrace.

Welcome to Tribal Warrior mentor Byron Arellano who played a vital role in finding and supporting these young artists, and Aunty Beryl from Yaama Dihyaan for catering this event.

Working with local Aboriginal organisations and businesses is an important part of the Eora Journey, and we are really pleased that you have been involved in this project.

I also want to make a special acknowledgment of Shane Phillips, whose fantastic program for Redfern kids won him the 2013 Australian Local Hero Award. It was really well-earned, and a great tribute to someone who's making a real difference in Redfern.

A warm welcome also to the members of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Advisory Panel, our Public Art Panel and our Design Advisory Panel, as well as to the representatives of the Aboriginal organisations here today.

A few years ago, when we talked to people across the City to help us create a vision for the future, one of the strongest messages we heard was for greater recognition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander story.

Here we have the world's oldest continuing culture - a living part of our City - with its extraordinary past, and its vibrant present as a continuous thread in the story of Sydney.

Yet till now, the public monuments and public spaces of Sydney have told very little of that story.

We're working with you to redress the balance and we're creating the Eora Journey - a series of artworks and monuments at sites of special Aboriginal significance throughout the city.

It will also include an Aboriginal knowledge and cultural centre, a major annual event to highlight and celebrate Aboriginal culture, and - importantly - an economic development plan.

It is wonderful to have Hetti Perkins as curator of the Eora Journey, and she draws on the wisdom and advice of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel.

They have already helped the City's History Unit, and Aboriginal historian Steve Miller to develop Barani Barabagu, a booklet giving information on 60 sites of Aboriginal significance in the City.

In 2010, Hetti was appointed with the architect Julie Cracknell to look at what is now considered best practice internationally in artistic interpretation to help fit the Eora Journey into the public domain of Sydney.

Finally, last year, we were able to commit the substantial funds needed to develop seven projects over the next decade that will highlight the enduring connections of Aboriginal people to the city and the harbour.

Today we're launching the Redfern Terrace Street Art project, as well as the broader Eora Journey.

The Street Art project is a temporary but important one, as it gives us the chance to consult the Aboriginal community and the broader community on the proposed future of the Terrace as a key part of the Eora Journey.

It is not the "keeping place" - various sites are under discussion for that. But it will be a cultural space and museum, with a focus on the history of The Block and of Aboriginal activism in Sydney. And that is an important story to tell.

I'm also happy to say that we have consulted widely and in the next few weeks, will release the artist's brief, looking for Aboriginal artists to develop a concept for a monument in Hyde Park South which will pay tribute to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have serve this country in time of war.

We have also developed a short-list of Aboriginal artists to develop ideas for a series of video projections that will reactivate the Aboriginal history and memory of certain places in the City.

We told you we would create this project with you and we are listening to your wishes and your advice. It takes time to research and put together a major project like this but today marks the start.

It is going to be something really special, honouring the special place and story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Sydney. It will speak to Sydneysiders, and to the many international visitors who want to know more about your amazing culture. We are proud to be delivering the project. I hope you will all be proud of it.

Please take this opportunity to see the Eora Journey video which is screening inside the Community Centre, next to Chicka's artwork in the Elders' Lounge upstairs.

Thank you all for coming here today, and thank you to everyone who is helping make this dream a reality.