Monthly Archives: February 2013

Stronger into the future – Yabun 2013

Published in the South Sydney Herald, p. 11, 5 Feb 2013.

Click here to see it online.

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Ada Lee

On January 26, Survival Day, over 10,000 people united at Victoria Park to celebrate Australia’s Aboriginal heritage. Yabun is the biggest one-day Aboriginal festival in Australia and it proved the best place to be for the national holiday.

“The whole Sydney community was invited,” said Bianca Williams of Gadigal Information Service. Yabun aims “to say to the rest of the world that Aboriginal culture is surviving … We’re heading even stronger into the future.”

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore attended to pay her respects to Australia’s First Peoples. Quoting Paulo Coelho, she said: “It’s what you do in the present that will redeem the past and thereby change the future.

Victoria Park buzzed with friendly faces, cultural pride, and, of course, the music. Kids got artsy in the Jarjums Tent and played in the Corroboree Sand. There was rock climbing and jumping castles. People gathered amid stalls and in the Speak Out Tent to discuss Aboriginal Australia’s future. The food was truly multicultural and I got the chance to try crocodile.

Yabun translates to “music with a beat”, and in this regard, did not disappoint. Families and friends gathered to witness some of the greatest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander upcoming and established talents. It wasn’t your typical perfectly timed concert with hyperventilating fans and idolised celebrities. The line-up ran half an hour late and the wind knocked things over but it didn’t matter. It was perfectly imperfect. It was the feeling of community.

On the Main Stage, MCs Constantina Bush and Redfern Now actor, Alec Doomadgee, provided the perfect mix of comedy and seriousness. Musical highlights included JPoint’s soulful hip hop, the elegant Thelma Plum with an indie voice that felt like floating, Dizzy Doolan’s feminine ferocity and seeing Vic Simms and the All Star Band of 50-somethings rocking out like teenagers. But regardless of what musical genre tickles your fancy, it was the heart of the festival that proved most captivating.

The crowd favourite was undeniably Archie Roach – not just because of his ARIA awards and iconic deep voice but more because he embodies perfectly the Indigenous survival story and the meaning of Yabun. When his voice dripped with regret and longing as he sang “Old Mission Road”, you saw him as a 3-year-old Aboriginal boy, stolen from his parents. And when he got the crowd dancing to his upbeat, soulful new release, “Song to Sing”, you saw a man who had survived and inspired. Roach told the crowd: “No matter how insurmountable things might seem, we’re going to rise above it.”

Yabun Festival 2013 was a day of exceptional talent, entertainment and sharing. Most of all, it was a day of remembrance and hope.


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Farewell to Redfern Centre

SSH Feb p4

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REDFERN: Community groups have been asked to leave their home of 13 years to make room for church growth. 

On January 9, community groups farewelled the Redfern Centre, located at St Saviour’s Anglican Church. The old church hall came alive with around 64 friends reminiscing over their treasured experiences with the Redfern Centre.

In 1998, three friends – the Rev. John McIntyre, Faye Williams and Jack Carnegie – came up with the idea of using the neglected church hall to house community groups.

Since 1999, the Redfern Centre has been home to four community organisations that deliver services such as healthy food delivery and affordable transport to locals, particularly to the elderly and people with disabilities.

Beyond this, Mr McIntyre said that through the community organisations local people have been empowered to help themselves and each other. The benefits have been felt by clients but also by volunteers. Shaun, a volunteer, said the Food Distribution Network (FDN) enabled him to feel the responsibility of a job.

According to the community organisations, since Mr McIntyre left St Saviour’s in late 2005, the church has considered reacquiring the hall for church initiatives such as a soup kitchen. Mr McIntyre said he disagrees very strongly with the church’s decision. “I feel that church and community should work hand-in-hand,” he said. “[The church is there] to offer what we have to the community.”

Regarding St Saviour’s new plans, Jane Rogers, Manager of South East Sydney Community Transport (SESCT), believes compromises could have been made.

Many community members are deeply saddened by the closing of the Redfern Centre. Ms Williams, former Home and Community Care (HACC) Development Officer, believes the church’s decision is “very poor”. “If the church supports the general community, they end up stronger than if they make a distinction between the church community and the general community,” she said. “It’s disappointing.”

Several people at the farewell emphasised that the biggest tragedy for community groups is the loss of collaboration, which was made possible by being co-located and centred in the local community. “We’re all scattered again,” said Ms Rogers.

All four community groups are now forced into commercial real estate. Chris Campbell, Coordinator of FDN, said: “Now we have four agencies paying separate rents, separate electricities [sic]… It makes it harder for us to help people.” FDN has been unable to find new premises.

Ms Rogers said that even for SESCT and Neighbour Connections who are relocating to Ultimo, their new residence would not be permanent due to high rents. “Now we’re in limbo,” she said.

Published in the South Sydney Herald, p. 4, Feb 2013.


Read the statement St Saviour’s Anglican Church issued to the SSH under request that it not be amended or abbreviated.

Read Jan McIntyre’s open letter to the St Saviour’s congregation.

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