Celebrating culture and community

Celebrating culture and community

NAIDOC in the City

NAIDOC in the City kicked off NAIDOC Week celebrations on Monday 4 July 2016 at Hyde Park.

Reconciliation Week

To mark Reconciliation Week 2016, we launched our reconciliation action plan, with a celebration and traditional earth oven in Redfern Park, attended by over 300 staff and members of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Our RAP identifies what we will do to further the goal of reconciliation. It supports the City's Eora Journey which celebrates the living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Sydney.  

Redfern Park is the site of a defining moment in the reconciliation movement when former prime minister Paul Keating launched the Year of the Indigenous Person in 1992. His speech focused on reconciliation and was the first acknowledgment by the Commonwealth government of the dispossession of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  

Reconciliation Week from 27 May (1967 referendum anniversary) to 3 June (Mabo Day) was in 2016 themed: Our History, Our Story, Our Future.

Reconciliation action plan

The City’s reconciliation action plan outlines our progress so far and the City’s desire to continue working towards improving relationships between non-Indigenous Australians and our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Our reconciliation action plan documents what we will do to further the goal of reconciliation focusing on 3 key areas:

  • building respect
  • forging relationships
  • creating opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Reconciliation Australia has endorsed the City's plan, which was also endorsed by Council at its June meeting in 2015.

Eora Journey

The Eora Journey is made up of 4 projects – recognition in the public domain, a significant event, an economic development plan and a cultural centre.

Recognition in the public domain

The City has committed $5 million to create 7 works of national significance by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander artists to celebrate the First Peoples of Australia in our global city.

Ahead of the Anzac centenary in 2015, the City unveiled a major artwork in Hyde Park to honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women.

Yininmadyemi (pronounced yinn-in-madj-amee), Thou didst let fall, by Aboriginal artist Tony Albert, by Aboriginal artist Tony Albert, features 4 7-metre tall, 1.5-tonne bullets and 3 fallen shells to represent the diggers who returned to Australia and the ones who lost their lives.

The artwork is the third to be commissioned under the City’s Eora Journey program. The previous 2 works are Reko Rennie’s Welcome to Redfern, which he created with the help of local young people, and Nicole Foreshew’s Born in darkness before dawn, which was projected onto the Australian Museum in 2013.

Significant events

The City currently provides support for a range of events to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture.

We are proud to be the major sponsor of Yabun. In 2016, The City contributed $80,000 to support Gadigal Information Services holding the annual 26 January event in Victoria Park. Yabun is the largest one day Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander festival in Australia.

For the past 4 years the City has worked with Indigenous businesses to host NAIDOC in the City. The event on the first Monday each July continues to grow, attracting over 10,000 people to the city centre to celebrate and share Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. We also provide grants to local organisations to hold NAIDOC celebrations in the community.

The City is also pleased to support community initiatives through our grants including the annual Indigenous Veterans Commemoration in Hyde Park and the bi-annual Yellamundie National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Playwriting Festival, which is held every 2 years.

Every year we support the Redfern Aboriginal Anzac Day commemorations hosted by Babana Aboriginal Men’s group. Babana was successful in gaining a $6,200 grant in cash and in-kind support each year for 2014, 2015 and 2016 to celebrate the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women on Anzac Day.

Economic development plan

The City has consulted widely on developing an Eora Journey economic development plan that will address the community’s access to education and training opportunities as well as issues associated with business investment, enterprise development and employment.

Barani Barrabugu

The Eora Journey builds on existing work undertaken by the City to celebrate our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and community. In June 2011 the City published the free booklet, Barani Barrabugu (Yesterday Tomorrow), a historical walking tour that takes in more than 60 sites around Sydney significant to Aboriginal people. Visit the Sydney Barani website to download a copy.

The award-winning Barani Barrabugu was the result of 2 years of extensive research by the City’s History Unit and Aboriginal historian Steve Miller, under the guidance of the City’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel. This information will help the City develop the Eora Journey Walking Trail.

Our protocols

When consulting and working with Aboriginal peoples, the Council and City of Sydney staff are guided by a set of protocols based on respect, trust and a spirit of openness. The protocols express our commitment to working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents.

They also outline ways in which the City of Sydney can demonstrate its committment to reconciliation, such as:

  • acknowledging the traditional custodians of Sydney
  • flying the Aboriginal flag above Sydney Town Hall
  • recognising Aboriginal peoples' right to self-determination
  • challenging negative stereotypes
  • marking significant ceremonies and dates.

You can download the protocols.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Advisory Panel

The City's advisory panel informs and shapes our work with Aboriginal communities. Made up of a cross-section of community members, including industry professionals, young people and Elders, it was established to advise our organisation on matters that are important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Following a strong recommendation from the panel, a full meeting of Council in 2010 voted in favour of using the term 'invasion' to describe European settlement of Sydney. The sentence below was subsequently included in the City's 10-year corporate plan.
"Despite the destructive impact of this invasion, Aboriginal culture endured."

The panel is responsible for reviewing the City's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protocols, in conjunction with members of the community.

Koori collection

More than 1,250 items make up the City of Sydney Library’s Koori collection, a wide range of titles dedicated to Aboriginal histories and cultures. Topics covered include land rights, Aboriginal leaders and sporting greats. The Koori collection is held at Waterloo Library.

Significant partnerships

Joining forces with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, the City put together the Principles of Cooperation, a set of guidelines for government departments that provide services to the Aboriginal community.

The City is also an active member of the Eastern Region Local Government Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum. The aim of the forum is to stimulate and advocate a commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Events in the forum’s calendar include the Reconciliation Week Primary Schools Art Competition and the Pauline McLeod Awards for Reconciliation.


Find out more about our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander projects and programs:

David Beaumont
Community Engagement Coordinator (Aboriginal Community Development)
02 9265 9333


Eora Journey Barani: Sydney's Aboriginal history Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council

Anzacs David Williams, Pastor Ray Minnniecon and Harry Allie along with artist Tony Albert (second left) and Lord Mayor Clover Moore, stand in front of Yininmadyemi – Thou Didst Let Fall.

Last updated: Wednesday, 13 July 2016