Bondi Memorial
Bondi Memorial ©johnmcrae

Victims and survivors of LGBTQI hate and violence will be remembered on Saturday 4 June at the community launch and dedication of Rise: The Bondi Memorial.

Hundreds are expected to gather at Marks Park in Tamarama for the public commemoration of the memorial which commemorates lives lost to homophobic and transphobic attacks in Sydney and to pay tribute to the courage, strength and resilience of survivors and loved ones.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, LGBTQ people were the targets of hate crimes across Sydney and NSW, resulting in many being assaulted or killed, including along the Bondi coastline and Marks Park.

Rise: The Bondi Memorial, a public artwork dedicated to the victims and survivors of these historical crimes, was a collaborative project between Waverley Council, health organisation ACON and United Art Projects (UAP).

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said: “Today’s public commemoration and the official unveiling of Rise: The Bondi Memorial marks an important milestone in our communities’ journeys towards healing and justice. Since 2015, ACON has been working in partnership with Waverley Council towards the development of this artwork, which will help in acknowledging the past and in looking to the future”.

“We hope this monument helps heal the trauma these horrific events have caused for their families and loved ones and broader LGBTQ communities and many local residents,” Mr Parkhill said.

“We also hope the memorial will help raise greater community awareness of the issue of LGBTQ hate crimes, promote the continuing need to pursue truth and justice, and serve as a reminder of the importance of valuing and celebrating diversity in our community.”

Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos, said healing was the most aspirational aspect of this project and having a space such as Rise: The Bondi Memorial in the public domain provides an opportunity for healing by making space for recognition and confrontation of the past, giving light to changing attitudes.

Rise: The Bondi Memorial serves as a place of quiet and ongoing reflection where we can recognise this devastating history together as a community whilst marking the forward-moving social progress made through ongoing changing attitudes in society,” Mayor Masselos said.

“It responds beautifully to the project’s guiding principles of remembrance, diversity, inclusion, justice and acceptance.

“The trauma associated with gay and transphobic hate crimes is complex, multilayered and deeply embedded across a broad section of our community. Healing is perhaps one of the most difficult elements of this project because it is a personal journey and can take many forms.”

Rise: The Bondi Memorial was designed by UAP’s lead designer John Nicholson and features a six-level stone terrace that represents the six bands in the pride flag, and which invokes a staircase that rises above the history of violence.

Embedded in the artwork is a series of plaques honouring lives lost and reflecting moments in the community’s ongoing pursuit of healing, truth and justice.

UAP Managing Principle Owen Craven said: “This artwork will play a special role in nurturing life in the community as it becomes a place of remembrance for the victims of hate crimes, but also celebrates the bravery of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals who have come out and lived openly, no matter the risks”.

“We hope this memorial helps raise greater community awareness on the importance of inclusion, diversity, equity, and belonging for all.”

Rise: The Bondi Memorial was made possible with a $100,000 contribution from Waverley Council, donations from LGBTQ people and supporters via ACON’s community fundraising drive, and a philanthropic gift of $64,000 from LGBTQ community members Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg.

Mr Parkhill said: “We are extremely grateful to Waverley Council, Stephen Heasley, Andrew Borg and the many community members who made a donation towards the development of Rise: The Bondi Memorial over the years. Your generous support has gone a long way in helping realise this important monument.”

Among the speakers at the memorial’s public launch are author Greg Callaghan, former NSW Deputy Coroner Jacqueline Milledge, The Gender Centre’s Eloise Brook, ACON President Justin Koonin and the Waverley Mayor. The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir is also performing.

“We thank all those attending the community launch and public commemoration of Rise: The Bondi Memorial,” Mr Parkhill said. “We honour all those that were lost and pay tribute the survivors, their families and loved ones. We dedicate this monument of remembrance, healing, hope, strength and justice to you.”

Mayor Masselos said: “In a world where unspeakable tragedies occur all too often, Rise: The Bondi Memorial reminds us to be kinder to one another and create a future that is safe, welcoming and tolerant”.