The Bondi Memorial public artwork in Mark's Park in Tamarama aims to honour victims and survivors of homophobia and transphobic violence, to help acknowledge and heal the significant community trauma caused by these events, to raise greater community awareness of this issue and to promote the continuing need for relevant information to be brought to police attention.
Mark's Park was selected as the location for the permanent memorial given its place in international history as the site of numerous attacks. Many gay men and transgender women were assaulted, and in some cases murdered, at Mark's Park.
The memorial is based on the following principles:
- Remembrance – remembrance of LGBT victims of hate crimes in Sydney's eastern suburbs, the greater Sydney region and broader NSW
- Diversity – acknowledgement of the diversity of the eastern suburbs area, including its prominent LGBT community
- Inclusion – recognition of the social inclusion of groups who have been historically marginalised in the area
- Justice – justice for the victims, their friends, families and communities
- Acceptance – acceptance of the area’s complex history as the site in which the crimes took place
A dark chapter in Sydney's history
From the late 1970s through to the early 1990s, an epidemic of homophobic and transphobic violence gripped Sydney and more than 80 gay men and transgender women disappeared, were assaulted or murdered in NSW, many at coastal parks in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. Many other LGBTQ community members were targeted in violent incidents during this time.
Many of these deaths and disappearances were misclassified as suicides, misadventure or accidents at the time. Many of these cases remain unsolved. Subsequent inquests into some of these cases concluded that the deaths were probably hate crimes.
This aspect of Sydney’s recent history has been largely erased from public consciousness due in large part to the discrimination experienced by gay men at the time, which resulted in little interest among relevant authorities and the media.
Much has changed since the late 1970s and it is important for the community at large to be able to both acknowledge the shameful acts of the past and to celebrate and promote diversity.
Honouring victims and survivors of LGBT hate crimes
Since 2016, ACON and Waverley Council has been working together towards the development of the Bondi Memorial to honour victims and survivors of these attacks, and to build a symbol a symbol of healing, justice, hope and inclusion.
Mark's Park was formally endorsed by Waverley Council as the site of the memorial in 2018 and, in 2019, an open tender process for concept decisions was carried out. Throughout this time, ACON has held numerous consultations with local advocates, community organisations, survivors of hate crimes, and families and loved ones of victims.
In Pursuit of Truth and Justice
In May 2018, ACON released the report In Pursuit of Truth and Justice: Documenting Gay and Transgender Prejudice Killings in NSW in the Late 20th Century, a report into historical crimes against gay men and trans women in NSW. The report presents a series of recommendations aimed at achieving justice and healing for victims and survivors - including the construction of a public memorial - enhancing current responses to hate crimes and strengthening ongoing efforts in violence prevention.
To read the report, click here.
The NSW Parliament acted on findings from the report by initiating a formal Inquiry in September 2018, and again in October 2019, to better understand the extent and impact of violence, whether LGBTQ people in New South Wales were effectively protected and justice delivered, and whether the current response to hate crimes is adequate.
For more information about the Parliamentary Inquiry, click here.
ACON is NSW’s leading health promotion organisation specialising in community health, inclusion and HIV responses for people of diverse sexualities and genders.
Established in 1985, ACON works to create opportunities for people in our communities to live their healthiest lives.
ACON has a strong commitment to the safety of our community and provide a range of support and advocacy services that help improve the security and safety of LGBTQ people and their families.
ACON also provides a range of services related to mental health, care coordination and referral support for LGBTQ people and those affected by HIV. For any community members or victims’ loved ones who may be experiencing distress related these historical hate crimes, we can provide counselling. To make an inquiry please call (02) 9206 2000 or visit www.acon.org.au
About Waverley Council
Waverley Council provides and supports a variety of services, programs and initiatives to sustain and improve the quality of life for the Waverley community.
Waverley Council operates within the boundaries of its Local Government Area, covering 9km2 along Sydney's eastern suburbs of Bronte, Tamarama and Bondi, north to Dover Heights and Rose Bay, west to Queens Park, Bondi Junction and Charing Cross, and south to Bronte.
For more information on Waverley Council, visit www.waverley.nsw.gov.au