The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy

Glenn Lockitch  Barbara McGrady  Peter Crowfoot  John Janson-Moore  Jarek Gasiorek  Lorna Munro    

Curator Sandy Edwards

The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy Exhibition showcases five Australian photographers who documented over fifteen months the successful protest for low-income housing by the indigenous community in the heart of Sydney city.

The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy (RATE) and its Sacred Fire for Healing and Justice was created on 26th May 2014 in Sydney in opposition to a proposed multi-million dollar commercial development by the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC) on the historical site of the first land granted by the Australian Government to Aboriginal people. RATE alleged non-transparency and a lack of accountability by Mick Mundine who controls the AHC (originally created with low-income housing as a priority) and feared the development could ultimately fall into ownership by a large corporation thus forever losing the historical Aboriginal site. 

The protest and presence of RATE over 15 months placed enough political pressure on Nigel Scullion, the Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, to help secure an agreement between RATE and the AHC where low-income housing will now be built as an equal priority and in conjunction with the commercial development. 

Aunty Jenny Munro, the Aboriginal Elder who spearheaded the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy protest, considers the final outcome a victory for the indigenous community and outside the NSW Supreme Court urged the indigenous people across Australia to stand up and fight for their rights, “We’ve had some serious open-heart surgery there at the Block, but I think we can say after this that the black heart of the city is still beating. I’m old school. My teachers taught me the principles of our resistance – we never ceded our land to anyone. The embassy has demonstrated that for our people, resistance is the only way to go. For all the communities around the country facing closure, don’t talk sovereignty, assert your sovereignty. Put up an embassy and demand the funding for your basic rights. We will fight with you every step of the way.”

Once the agreement was reached between the two parties the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy packed up their protest camp and left the Block. RATE has stated that actions speak louder than words and will be keeping an eye on the development to make sure that indigenous people receive the low-income housing they were promised many years ago.

Glenn Lockitch