Working with Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community

This week, the City launched our NAIDOC Week program with a stunning new booklet telling the hidden history of Sydney's rich Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community from Bennelong and his wife Barangaroo, through to contemporary communities in Redfern, Alexandria and Waterloo.

The beautifully illustrated 84 page Barani/Barrabugu (Yesterday/Tomorrow) booklet is the first step in establishing the Eora Journey and it was complemented by three important decisions for Sydney's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

On Monday, Council resolved to:

  • Adopt a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander statement for the City's Community Strategic Plan;
  • Investigate the transfer of land in Redfern to the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) for the Pemulwuy project; and
  • Approve $20,000 funding towards a feasibility study for a new Indigenous Festival for Sydney.

The proposed transfer of land in Redfern to the AHC will go on public exhibition, as required by the State Government, and staff will begin negotiations with the AHC to develop a deed for the transfer. A report will come to Council about the transfer before a final decision is made.

The proposal for an Indigenous Festival is being developed by a working party including representatives from the Art Gallery of NSW, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Museum of Contemporary Art, State Library of NSW, Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens and Blackfella Films. The working party has engaged a consultant to conduct a feasibility study, and Events NSW has pledged $20,000 toward its cost.

All these decisions were a fitting start for NAIDOC Week. NAIDOC has now grown into a national celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and is an opportunity to recognise the contributions of Indigenous Australians in various fields.

When I launched the Barani-Barrabugu booklet today, I explained that the title signifies the continuity of Aboriginal people and culture. In the Sydney language, Barani-Barrabugu means yesterday/tomorrow.

Barani-Barrabugu is the result of an extensive project undertaken by the City's History Program, which identified 255 significant Aboriginal sites within the City's local government area. Some sites relate to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' struggle for justice and civil rights. Others have been identified using archaeological evidence that show the unbroken connection Aboriginal people have with Sydney.

The booklet connects each of the sites with an historical theme such as civil rights, sport and performing arts. It shows Aboriginal people are intrinsic to our shared story and that Aboriginal culture and history permeate modern Sydney.


  • Click HERE for reports and recommendations relating to Council's decisions. See Item 10 (Transfer of Land to Aboriginal Housing Company) and Notice of Motion 6 (Sydney Indigenous Festival). The full Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statement will be in Council's Minutes when the Minutes are published on line at this link.
  • NAIDOC Week:
  • The City's Aboriginal history website:

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