Cultural and creative life

In pictures: Redfern Community Centre turns 20

Locals and former employees share their fondest memories. Warning: this article contains images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

  • Dancers perform at the opening of the centre. It’s not just a space for the celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, but a place that brings the diversity of Redfern together.

    "The community centre provides a hub, for family and mob to meet and re-connect in a culturally safe space. We want the 20th Anniversary to re-live that moment, and bring people back to celebrate this huge milestone."

    • Otis Williams, Aboriginal community development officer

    “Redfern Community Centre has always been a place to find commonalities, to better connect culture and communities. It’s a space that is responsive to community need in a culturally respectful manner.

    “A regular and popular event at the centre was Breaking Bread for Living in Harmony Day events. There were damper making workshops, after which there would be demonstations showing bread making from another culture, for example Indian, Pakistani or Chinese.”

    • Kristina Karasulas, former Redfern Community Centre manager.
    Credit: City of Sydney Archives, A-00065130
  • Her Excellency the Honourable Marie Bashir Governor of NSW with Elder Auntie Joyce Ingram and some children at the opening of Redfern Community Centre, 16 March 2004.

    “Before we opened the centre there were rumours in the community about what was being built - these ranged from a juvenile detention centre to a cop shop. Eventually a beautifully designed building rose up.

    “We had a lot of work to do to show the community that it was going to be a positive space where everyone could come together, to learn, to create and celebrate a new era for the Block.”

    • Beth Jewell, former Redfern Community Centre manager.
    Credit: City of Sydney Archives, A-00065146
  • Lord Mayor Clover Moore and then Redfern Community Centre manager Beth Jewell at the centre’s 2nd birthday celebration in 2006.

    “Against the odds, the centre proved to be a place where all ages could come in and join activities, courses and events. Often life-changing results became common. The hospitality courses, music studio and acting classes forged careers for so many local young people. Every time I see another familiar face in a film or series, it warms my heart.”

    • Beth Jewell.

    "Redfern Community Centre's 20th birthday is such a wonderful occasion to celebrate. Spaces like this are so important to our community, as a place to gather, learn, create and share experiences. It's always great to mark a birthday, especially a 20th! Congratulations to everyone who has made Redfern Community Centre the wonderful place it is today."

    • Clover Moore, Lord Mayor AO
  • Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo is a star in the kitchen of Redfern Community Centre. Her Johnny Cakes are legendary. Aunty Beryl is seen here cooking at the National Reconciliation Week event, 1 June 2022.

    Aunty Beryl and her community lunches have long played an important role in bringing people together. The centre now hosts monthly community barbecues.

    “We started off cooking for elders in the kitchen in the morning, but as the group grew, we found that it was better to run a community lunch. This brought the community together and the Redfern Community Centre became a meeting place for us to gather and catch up.”

    • Aunty Beryl.
    Credit: Chris Southwood, City of Sydney
  • Crowds gather at Redfern Community Centre to watch a live broadcast of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, 13 February 2008.

    "The apology to members of the Stolen Generations in 2008 by the prime minister on behalf of the parliament of Australia was a moment of deep reflection marking a poignant moment in Australia's history. It acknowledged the atrocities committed against our people and gave a sense of hope toward a positive future."

    • David Beaumont, Senior community engagement co-ordinator Indigenous leadership & engagement
    Credit: Top: Wendy McDougall / State Library of NSW and National Library of Australia. Bottom: Jamie Williams, City of Sydney 
  • Thousands gather on the former site of the Block for a screening of John Pilger’s documentary, ‘Utopia’, July 2014.

    “What was to be a small community screening and soft launch of the documentary turned out to be a huge event, with estimated numbers of over 2,500 people. Everyday presented new challenges as the momentum for the launch and political interest increased. The event was attended by Utopia Elder (now deceased) Bob Randles and his wife Barbara.”

    • Kristina Karasulas.
  • ‘Welcome to Redfern’, completed in 2013, is a mural covering an entire terrace house, directly adjacent to the Redfern Community Centre.

    The remaining end terrace at the corner of Caroline and Hugo streets forms a landmark and monument to the neighbourhood’s Aboriginal history, activism, communities and cultures.

    Artist Reko Rennie and a group of local young Aboriginal artists transformed this Victorian-era terrace at The Block with vibrant graphic designs and murals of inspiring Aboriginal leaders.

    Credit: Adam Hollingworth, City of Sydney
  • The Redfern Community Centre can’t be missed, thanks in part to this stunning mural that was painted for the centre’s opening.

    Painted my Dhungatti man and Archibald Prize winner Blak Douglas, the mural shows the Aboriginal flag repeated across the land, water and sky.

    Credit: Abril Felman, City of Sydney
  • Aunty Beryl Van-Oploo, Aboriginal community development officer Otis Williams and Councillors (Waskam) Emelda Davis and HY William Chan cut the cake at the 20th birthday celebration.

    The local community came together to celebrate, enjoying live music, entertainment and family activities.

    Credit: Joseph Mayers, City of Sydney
  • Indigenous band the Stiff Gins didn’t let the rain get in the way of a great performance.

    The crowd braved the weather to watch live RCC Studio artists including Yung Brother, Green Hand Band, Nadeena Dixon, Tim Bishop, Rhubee Neale and Lawrence 'Lollipop' Barlow.

    Credit: Joseph Mayers, City of Sydney

Our much-loved Redfern Community Centre is 20 years old.

Local community members and former managers reflect on events and some of the people who’ve shaped the centre’s history so far.

Published 16 April 2024, updated 23 April 2024