Waverley Council and LGBTI health organisation ACON have reached another milestone in the Bondi Memorial Project after Council last night endorsed Marks Park, Tamarama as the next site for the commissioning and installation of public art in the Waverley local government area.
The endorsement allows for the commissioning of a memorial in the form of a public artwork in the park to acknowledge the men targeted in homophobic attacks from the 1970s to 1990s. Many gay men were assaulted and in some cases murdered along the coastal walk from Bondi to Tamarama, including Marks Park.
Last night’s decision follows the Waverley Council Public Art Committee’s decision in June to endorse Marks Park as the most appropriate site for the commissioning of the memorial. Waverley Council has committed $100,000 in its Capital Works Program for 2018/19 for the commissioning of a new public artwork. Marks Park will be the site of that artwork.
In welcoming the Council’s endorsement, ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said it was a major step forward for the Bondi Memorial Project. “ACON has been working with a range of community partners, advocates and the broader LGBTI community on a range of responses to address the painful legacy left behind by the wave of anti-gay violence that swept through Sydney in the 1970s to the 1990s. This grief and trauma continues to impact on our community’s health and wellbeing today,” said Mr Parkhill.
“Since 2015, we have been working in partnership with Waverley Council towards the Bondi Memorial Project, which will see the construction of a monument along the Bondi coast in remembrance of the many members of our communities that fell victim to these violent attacks.”
“We welcome Council’s endorsement of Marks Park as the site of the memorial. The focus of many of these violent attacks was in, and around, Marks Park. This memorial will help acknowledge and heal the trauma these events have caused for the families of the victims as well as the LGBTI community and many local residents.”
“The memorial will also help raise greater community awareness of this issue and serve as a reminder of the importance of valuing and celebrating diversity in our community. We thank Waverley Council for their continued support for the Bondi Memorial Project and for the broader LGBTI community.”
The endorsement comes as the Bondi Memorial Project becomes the recipient of a philanthropic donation of $64,000 from Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg. The contribution was made under the terms of the couple’s settlement with an online printing company following an incident that resulted in the company apologising to the men, affirming their support for diversity and agreeing to direct a contribution to an LGBTI organisation of their choosing in Australia.
“We chose the Bondi Memorial Project for its purpose of shining a light on the impacts of bigotry, prejudice and discrimination, and the importance of valuing diversity in the community,” said Mr Borg. “We’re proud to be part of this important project.”
“We always wanted to use our experience as an opportunity to create greater understanding and acceptance of the LGBTI community,” added Mr Heasley. “We hope that this contribution will assist in the creation of a monument that commemorates the past and stands for healing, unity, progress and inclusion.”
“We are extremely grateful to Stephen and Andrew for their incredible support. This generous contribution underscores the significance of the project, and will go a long way in helping the memorial become a reality,” added Mr Parkhill. “Other community members who want to support the project can do so by making a donation online.”
The endorsement also comes as a parliamentary inquiry into historical gay and transgender hate crimes gets underway, which will shine a further light on these tragic events.
“There is growing momentum in the community towards achieving healing and justice for victims and survivors of these violent crimes. These people were someone’s family member, loved one, partner and friend. Many of these cases remain unsolved, and those left behind deserve healing and closure,” Mr Parkhill said.
“Measures such as the inquiry and the memorial will go a long way in honouring the victims of these terrible acts and sending out a beacon of hope for all victims of bias motivated crimes.”
Waverley Mayor, John Wakefield, said the Council and ACON will now work on an agreement to formalise details of the project before the process begins around the commissioning of an artist.
“It’s been too long in recognising these terrible events from our not-so-distant past,” said Mayor Wakefield. “Finally, we will have a permanent reminder by which we can pay respect to these men, their families, friends and the LGBTI community.”
There has been extensive community consultation throughout the planning process and this will continue during commissioning. For more information, visit: www.bondimemorial.com.au for details.
Image: Marks Park, Tamarama – courtesy of Waverley Council