250 families are accommodated in the Redfern area, mainly the Block, but there are another 250 families on the waiting list for accommodation.

  • The Block, Redfern
  • Eveleigh Street sign, Redfern
  • The Block, Redfern

Paul Landa, the NSW Legislative Assembly Minister for Education, establishes the Schools Commission and works with Aboriginal educators such as Bob Morgan (Commissioner) to improve Aboriginal people’s access to education.

Margaret Valadian and Natasha McNamara work in Balmain on Aboriginal education.

  • Margaret Valadian and Natascha McNamara

The Sydney Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council in Redfern works for Land Rights and Aboriginal human rights. Prominent members are Alan Madden, Isobel Coe, Paul Coe, Sylvia Ingram, Milly Ingram, Esther Ingram, Norma Ingram, and Chicka Madden. (V7, ‘A ceremony to re-bury skeletal remains’) (V8, ‘The meaning of our land’) (V4, ‘These people made Redfern their home’)

  • Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council sign
  • Metropolitan office

The first Aboriginal Education Conference is held in the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba. This NSW Schools Commission conference invites only Aboriginal speakers such as Bob Morgan and Milly Butt (Ingram). Darrell Thorne, Tim Hornibrook and Julie Janson are the organisers. Many issues such as the beginning of the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group are workshopped.

Barry Thorne and Neil Thorne from Walgett become teachers and go on to long careers in education. Their brother, Darrell Thorne works with the Schools Commission recording interviews with prominent Aboriginal people in Sydney. The boys’ mother Thelma Thorne is a much loved Aboriginal Education Assistant.

Kevin Cook becomes the first Aboriginal General Secretary of the Aboriginal Co-operative Movement, whose best known achievement is Tranby College. Burnum Burnum visits Tranby to speak to students. One student is Joy Banfield. Politician Al Grasby supports funding for Tranby. Robert Stanley and Jack Beetson are prominent teachers.

  • Burnum Burnum lecturing at Tranby College
  • Tranby classroom
  • Al Grasby

Colin Scott is playing for Manly. He plays one test for Australia. West 1981


In an exciting career, Steve Ella (Parramatta) plays three tests for Australia.

  • Greg, Garry and Mark Ella



David Kelly, a Liaison Officer in the Aboriginal Education Unit of NSW Department of TAFE, fights successfully for equal pay for equal work. The NSW Education Commission is forced to grant equal pay to match the non-Aboriginal positions of Outreach Co-ordinators.

Eora College is established in Regent St, Redfern as a vibrant, professional, community focused education centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The college focuses on Art, Music, Film making, Theatre and literacy. Sydney Institute is the organization that runs Eora College. Story tellers such as Pauline Mc Leod teach at the college. Darryl Griffin is the Principal in 2011. Librarian Leanne Lovegrove works tirelessly at Eora. (V19, ‘Leanne Lovegrove’) (V34, ‘Education never ends’), (V55, ‘Redfern saved my life’)


The NSW Land Rights Act establishes 13 regional land councils, which will provide legal, economic and planning skills to acquire land in the interests of local Koori people.

  • Land Rights March 1980's
  • Black Rights sign

The NSW Land Rights Act becomes law. What becomes the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land council begins as the Redfern Local Aboriginal Land Council, whose primary objectives are determined by Section 51 of the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983. The Act establishes 13 regional land councils, which will provide legal, economic and planning skills to acquire land in the interests of local Koori people. Isabel Flick is involved in early work. (V23 ‘Land is what we do’)

Michael Riley (film maker) comes to Leichhardt. At age 22 he has decided to come to Sydney out of boredom and to get away from the small-minded attitudes he finds out bush. If he had remained there, he reflects, he would have been straight on the dole and living in a housing commission house. Living nearby in Sydney are Linda Burney, and Lynnette Riley. While he has heard of some families who come to stay in Sydney but only remain a week, he decides to remain in Sydney for quite a few years before returning to Moree or Dubbo. His Aunty Rita lives in Leichhardt and has brought up her family there. He visits the Redfern Hotel from time to time but ‘it was very rough though’. He recalls that almost everybody went home (to rural NSW) before Christmas. (Plater 166).

The Institute of Technology and Adult Education (ITATE) in Haymarket, initiates a course for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educators in 1983, coordinated by Griff Foley supported by NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group. Its first intake is 1984.

With the disbandment of the University of Sydney Department of Adult Education, the Aboriginal Education Assistants Training program is relocated in the Department of Education, later the Faculty of Education, where it is known as the Aboriginal Education Centre. The director for many years is Rosemary Stack.

  • Rosemary Stack

Gerry Bostock and Alec Morgan screen their documentary “Lousy Little Sixpence”. The film tells the story of five children, representatives for an entire generation, who were stolen from their families by the Australian government to turn them into unpaid servants for white families. The documentary uses old newsreels, archive film, interviews and photographs. It causes an outrage and becomes essential viewing in NSW Schools.

  • Gerry Bostock and Alec Morgan producers of movie Lousy Little Sixpence


The Bangarra Dance Theatre is established after Averil Quayle and Tracey Moffatt apply to the Arts Board for an establishment grant.


Housing in the Block has begun to deteriorate. For many families the houses are too small or too expensive to maintain. Drug pushing has become a major problem. The AHC is expected to take responsibility for the social and economic problems experienced by the tenants. It cannot cope with the problems facing the community, is struggling to survive as a company, and is in deep financial trouble. (Pitts p. 3/20) V36, ‘It’s time we ended this vicious cycle of racism’)

  • Mick Mundine
  • Redfern Railway Station, with anti drug poster


Rayleen Bennett says, ‘I grew up in Darlinghurst and lived here most of my life’. Her mother is Rita Bennett. Rayleen says ‘I’m a Balmain gal’. (Plater, p. 263)

The Black Theatre in Renwick St, Redfern, is the site of a ‘Stop the Black Deaths in Custody’ Rally. It passes down Lawson St, past the Redfern Railway station ending in the main road in front of the Sydney Town Hall. (Heiss, pp. 21-22)

The first Chairperson of the Redfern (Later Metropolitan) Land Council is Sol Belear. At the first meeting membership forms are handed out to be filled out in which 50 members were needed. At first many people ask: ‘is it worth while? Is it tokenism?’ Other members include Jenny Munro, Ann Weldon, George Watts, Isabel Coe, and Christine Donnelly. (V8, ‘The meaning of our land’), V23 ‘Land is what we do’)

  • Christine Donnelly

The Palms Milk Bar in Botany Road has become so well known, according to Alan Madden, that ‘If you were looking for someone, if you couldn’t find him in Redfern he was either dead or in jail.’ (V37, ‘Growing up in the inner city’, V38, ‘Redfern Oval and the Palms’)


Patricia (Pat) June O'Shane is appointed a Magistrate of the Local Court of NSW. She is a former head of the NSW Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and normally sits at the Downing Centre Local Court.

An Aboriginal coordinator, Norma Ingram, is appointed to the ITATE program, the first appointment of an Aboriginal person to a tenured position in a NSW University. Later, Warren Mundine becomes a lecturer.

  • Warren Mundine, Co President of ALP

Robyn Williams from Liverpool is employed at NSW Department of Education and Training in the Aboriginal Education Unit and initiates many programs that benefit Indigenous students.

Dale Shearer (Manly) plays six tests for Australia.

A recent arrival to the inner-city is Lydia Miller. She recalls, ‘the first thing I noticed when I got here was everything was different, so many people and so many different ideas, you had to really develop a tolerance. It was so new you had to cope with that, you have to include that within your own frame of thinking.’ (Plater 167)

Is the 'Great Redfern Revolution' over? Michael Riley believes ‘that the fire has gone out of us. Maybe we were really ingrained into the Public Service and people had become complacent’. (Plater p. 173)

The Sarkissian Report finds that a choice of housing options be developed by the AHC and a major campaign begun to clean up the area including demolition of unsafe buildings. Sarkissian claims that the federal government and other agencies appear to be intent on destroying Aboriginal Redfern. However she concludes that ‘forced removal of people would have disastrous consequences, as the tragic chronicle of forced relocation to other communities has shown.’ A new plan is drawn up which includes communal living spaces but also private backyards with less emphasis on the idea of a common yard. (Pitts p. 3/29)

  • Aboriginal Housing Company

Aboriginal residents claim that government pressure to close down the Block is increasing, from both state and federal governments.

At least three houses are burnt down on The Block.

Boomali Aboriginal Artists Co-Operative is established in Chippendale. The Co-ordinator in 1990 is Brenda Croft. The founding members include Bronwyn Bancroft, Micheal Row, Jeffrey Samuels, Fiona Foley, Fernanda Martins, Tracey Moffatt, Euphemia Bostock, Averil Quail, Aaron Raymond Meeks, and Brenda Croft.

  • Bomalli Exhibition, Mardi Gras
  • Boomalli Art Gallery


Joy Williams graduates Master of Arts from University of Wollongong.

The architectural historian Angela Pitts reports that the AHC’s office is acting as the first contact or first reference point for Aboriginal people, nation-wide, to find family and friends, or for the homeless transients to find shelter or to seek employment, medical and other services in Sydney. (Pitts p. 3/23)


Playing for Eastern Suburbs, John ‘Chicka’ Ferguson tops the NSWRL scoring lists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ferguson_(rugby_league)


David Gundy is accidentally killed by police in his home in Redfern while they search for another man. Enormous protests follow. (http://www.hreoc.gov.au/racial_discrimination/report/redfern_1990.html)

The Eveleigh locomotive workshop closes, putting many Koori men and others out of work.

  • Railway employees at Eveleigh Street Railway workshop


The Commonwealth Government announced it is closing the Cockatoo Island dockyards and the island will be sold. The 1600 workers employed by Australian National Industries, concerned about their jobs, begin a 12 week strike. The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council is also concerned about a number of significant sites on the island. The MLALC submitted a claim on the island disputing the Commonwealth's sovereign title on the island, arguing that Aboriginal people were the owners of the site prior to European settlement in 1788.

Charles Perkins gazes across the city skyline and remarks, 'There's not an office building, block of land, scarcely a house, owned by an Aborigine. Yet we owned everything before'. (Read 1990, p. 314)

  • Bennelong Point
  • Looking from Tribal Warrior

Lydia Miller and Justine Saunders, both actors, organise the first National Black Playwrights Conference. ‘We were in the company of Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Brian Syron, Bob Maza, Justine Saunders, Jack Davis, Maureen Watson, Jimmy Everett and They wanted a national Aboriginal theatre company and they wanted all the young people to organize it. Our generation was the Rhoda Roberts’, the Vivian Walkers' the Michael Johnson’s and the Suzanne Ingrams’, I can still see us now, sitting down with the lawyers: we’re these twenty-somethings and we’re going ‘Now what? OKay, so we’re writing a constitution! It was fantastic. This was the moment that I started assuming responsibility.” (Karbara [videorecording]: ‘The First Born: the First National Black Playwrights Conference/director/producer, Richard Guthrie.)

  • Justine Saunders


Tracey Moffatt makes a short award winning film ‘Night Cries’. Moffatt is an Australian artist who primarily uses photography and video. In Night Cries she draws ironic or romantic connotations in juxtaposition to the images and narratives, such as her use of footage of Jimmy Little singing ‘Royal Telephone’. (youtube.com)

The University of Sydney Faculty of Education establishes an Aboriginal Education Centre and, in 1990, the Centre receives substantial Commonwealth Government funding enabling it to provide a full range of support services. It also develops Aboriginal Studies programs, drawing on the resources of the Sydney College of Advanced Education, one of the University's amalgamating institutions.