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Redfern as the Heart(h): Living (Black) in Inner Sydney



Before the arrival of the ‘white fella’ over 200 years ago, the Gadigal people and others of the Eora Darug occupied the place where the city of Sydney now stands. At the heart of this second tier global city, the inner-city suburb of Redfern has become a mainstay of urban Aboriginal identity. Yet, this troubled and stigmatised focal point of populist media representations and government policy does not reflect the diversity of urban Aboriginal life in inner Sydney. This paper draws on a range of sources about living in Redfern, from the difficult politics of establishing and retaining an Aboriginal urban space and place in the contemporary gentrifying city – achieved in large part through the establishment of now long-standing service provision – through to the rise of alternate visions and lives and many more ‘ordinary’ ways of living in the city. This paper seeks to highlight that Aboriginal people variously inhabit, occupy, and sometimes thrive in Australia's first colonial city and the site of invasion. It also provides several of the author's personal experiences of engagement with some of these processes.