The City of Sydney has announced it will be transforming Redfern Post Office into an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural hub.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the community had long advocated for a space to gather, share and practice the cultures of the First Peoples of Australia.
The cultural hub will be a ‘centrepiece’ of the City’s Eora Journey, a long-term project that celebrates the living cultures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Sydney.
“Our broader community emphatically told us that they want to know more about the Aboriginal owners of our city, who survived the years of first contact, and whose descendants live here today,” the Lord Mayor said.
“In the Gadigal language, Eora means ‘the people’, so Eora Journey is ‘the people’s journey’ – a visionary series of projects that demonstrates our strong commitment to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Sydney and their stories.”
“We work closely with the community, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel and the Eora Journey Public Art Working Group on these important projects.”
The Eora Journey includes seven major public art projects overseen by curatorial advisor Hetti Perkins.
The City’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory panel assisted the City in the decision to purchase the 136-year-old heritage-listed post office, providing cultural and community advice on its potential to support the needs of the community for cultural uses.
“We’ve been searching for an appropriate property for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural space for some time and I’m pleased we’ve secured such an iconic landmark in Redfern,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Since I became Lord Mayor in 2004, the City has worked to put Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities first – our first public artwork was in Redfern and our first major park upgrade was Redfern Park.”
“We recognise the unique status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as custodians who have nurtured this land for tens of thousands of years and who have an immutable connection to our country and our city.”
“We’ve long advocated for the State and Federal Governments to commit to an Indigenous cultural centre of national significance and I hope our news today will encourage them to take action.”
Co-chair of the City of Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel, Steven Satour, said: “This purchase is another exciting step in the Eora Journey, which has been a visionary plan to celebrate and see our living culture all across Sydney.”
Former co-chair of the City of Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Panel, Millie Ingram, said: “Redfern has always been recognised nationwide as the epicentre of the Aboriginal Rights struggle. The Aboriginal people need to always have a visible presence in Redfern. Our history should be on display for all people to learn and know about Aboriginal Australia and its history, before and after 1788. A modern keeping place would serve this purpose.”
The City said that the current tenants will remain in the building until mid to late 2019. During that time, the City will support the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to develop a plan for the best use of the property.
The City has also endorsed an economic development plan to improve educational, employment and business opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.