A mural that honours five prominent Indigenous human rights activists located in Sydney's famous Bondi Beach has been painted white.
By
Laura Morelli

30 Nov 2016 - 2:43 PM  UPDATED 30 Nov 2016 - 6:56 PM

As rain drops hit the fresh white paint on the wall of the Bondi mural, they washed away to reveal a blank, cold hard message.

The mural, titled 'From little things big things grow,' is gone. Destroyed, vanished. Its former representation honoring Indigenous activists has been hidden under white paint. Its overall meaning is now invisible.

Boondi Boondi man and Waverley Greens councilor, Dominic Wy Kanak says this is a sad day for all Australians.

“Our community is very disappointed. People are sad and were trying to not let that spill into anger, but what has just happened here is the tip of the iceberg, literally, because it’s a whitewash for the social justice movement in our Aboriginal islander politics after invasion,” he says.

"It’s very sad that we still have a place that’s supposed to represent religious and spiritual values, yet that doesn’t transfer to an acknowledgement and understanding of the importance that this mural had for our community. Even the spiritual importance, because it’s about getting special permission from the families to even depict the images of deceased Elders. These people don’t understand that cultural significance.”

"Let this be an inspiration to the youth. Don’t get sad, don’t get angry, get inspired!"

Wiradjuri man and Aboriginal artist, Paul Davis was commissioned to paint the mural. He believed the mural should have been a representation for youth to believe that from little things big things can grow.

"We have such an attractive mural, an appropriate mural and something so delivered to the local community in such a prominent way, and that's really culturally appropriate, socially appropriate and basically a statement in history."

The mural was commissioned by the Uniting Church and was created to celebrate Indigenous human rights activists in a public space for locals and tourists to appreciate and remember Australian history. 

On Tuesday, Dominic was at the Bondi mural with the Waverly action youth service students, using this as a teaching aid for their certificate course.“They were wrapped that this mural was in our community and could be used for a teaching course like this.”

After that, the group visited the back of the Bondi Pavillion, where some of the homeless and sleeping rough people frequent. They also wanted the mural to stand.

“They told us that they went up and signed the petition to support the mural because they believe it should stay.”

“It’s very sad that there’s still ignorance in our community about reconciliation and the importance of Aboriginal social justice. It’s especially sad when that ignorance comes from a place like the Uniting Church in Wayside, and I think they should be condemned for whitewashing this Aboriginal social justice mural.”

However, Mr Wy Kanak believes the Wayside Chapel have a hidden motive behind their sporadic decision to paint the mural white. 

“We believe that the action that Wayside has taken is to avoid the interim heritage order that we requested from the NSW Minister for Heritage," he says.

"We’ve already sent that into parliament and it was currently getting considered, but before the decision to have it protected is released, Wayside has already gone and whitewashed this mural.”

The decision from the NSW Minister for Heritage will be announced next week, on 7 December. Wayside are yet to comment.

The paralegal, Law Student and Native Title Consultant says a white wall is a bad message for Aboriginal Australians.

"We are sad, sad for the families whose histories were represented here, but it shows that we have to continue this social justice fight," Mr Wy Kanak says.

"The fact that they’ve painted the mural white is literally a whitewashing of Aboriginal history."

If we continue to “allow things like these to happen, where we are going to be in the future when were supposed to be looking at treaties, sovereignty and constitutional recognition?”

Message for the youth:

Dominic Wy Kanak says the next generation must continue the fight for social justice.

"I want what’s happened here to be an inspiration for our youth. We're all feeling sad, going into anger and disappointment, but I want the youth to be inspired by this and continue the fight for social justice," he says.

"I want them to put up their own murals. If they get taken down, go paint another one. Let this be an inspiration to the youth. Don’t get sad, don’t get angry, get inspired!"

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