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As stewards of iconic Sydney Harbour land, and the location of first continuous contact between First Nations peoples and non-indigenous Australians, the Harbour Trust has a significant responsibility and opportunity to assist in the national process of reconciliation. The Harbour Trust’s vision for reconciliation is for all Australians to recognise and celebrate the centrality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, cultures, histories and continuing connections.

Over the past two years, as we have implemented our first Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), Harbour Trust staff, volunteers, community and Members of the Trust have taken tangible steps in our journey to reconciliation. We have learned much from the generous advice and guidance of the Harbour Trust Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory group. We have also committed ourselves to embedding the cultures and knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our work, through ensuring the diversity of our workforce and in our approach to the conservation, remediation and adaptive reuse of places in our care.

RAP implementation

  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group met four times and provided advice on key programs, place management and engagement.

  Engaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in community engagement activities discussing the vision of Cockatoo Island, using specialist First Nations Consultants Two Point Co.

  Continual development of partnerships to support First Nations peoples, including the establishment of a multi-year partnership with Dance Rites (Sydney Opera House) to enable First Nations performers from around Australia to stay on Cockatoo Island.

  Partnership with Biennale of Sydney to support the 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN and the inaugural First Nations curator, Brook Andrew, at the helm.

  Consulted with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council to gain approval to name the main arrival square at Sub Base Platypus Wirra Birra Place.

  Installed Acknowledgement of Country plaques at all primary sites, and additional interpretational signage at Cockatoo Island sharing First Nations’ heritage.

  The Harbour Trust pivoted its National Reconciliation Week program during COVID-19 to create a digital offering. Activities included: a DigiTalk on Aboriginal Trackers, DigiTale on Bungaree, kids’ activities and curated playlists of music and documentaries.