Better First Nations Relationship

Ensure the First Nations community is involved in all relevant decision-making, and acknowledge the impact of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Unfortunately, the City of Sydney still act like they know what is best for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. For years, top-down initiatives, like buying a "whites-only" post office as the site for an aboriginal cultural centre, have resulted from minimum community consultation.

In the time I have been a councillor for the city, approaching almost five years, I have created a set of policies to achieve a better relationship with our First Nations Australians in Sydney. Take a look:

  • To ensure a better First Nations relationship, we must:

    • Ensure the First Nations community is involved in all relevant decision-making, and acknowledge the impact of colonisation on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Recognise the contribution of culture to our City’s life and landscape.

      • Create an Urban Climate Corps with the First Nations community and WIRES to deliver projects across the City that harness traditional knowledge and provide opportunities for employment in landscaping, consultation and outdoor education

      • Invite representatives of the elected Local Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council to have a seat at the table in City decisions affecting First Nations residents, ending a selective and patchwork consultation process

      • Provide Indigenous language classes at local libraries and support for language classes in childcare centres across the City of Sydney

      • Work with local Aboriginal organisations to ensure First Nations icons are reflected in our City’s landscape, including the creation of a Patyegarang statue and a Frontier Wars Memorial

The City of Sydney must ensure local First Nations are involved in ALL relevant decision-making and put an end to paternalistic policy.

This photo is of a sculpture of Patyegarang I presented to Nathan Moran, CEO, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Last year, I proposed a motion at City of Sydney council asking officers to commission an artwork commemorating Patyegarang, a 15-year-old Gadigal woman who taught her language to the First Fleet naval officer Lieutenant William Dawes. This would have been the first publicly-funded statue in central Sydney to feature an Indigenous person.

There are more than two dozen statues in Sydney commemorating colonial figures such as Cook, Governor Arthur Phillip, Lachlan Macquarie, Queen Victoria, explorer Matthew Flinders and his cat Trim but not one commemorating our First Nations' people.

At that meeting, the Lord Mayor Clover Moore and her team amended my motion asking that the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council report back to council their thoughts. However at that meeting, First Nation members were told the decision needs to now go to a citizen's jury! 

The sculpture was made by an artist who read out our efforts. His wish is that we do not give up trying to get Patyegerang's story told.