Gadigal Information Service Aboriginal Corporation ("GIS") recognises 25 years of survival in 2018 as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organisation, securing spaces for our mobs across the airwaves. GIS was incorporated in 1993 as an not-for-profit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders community organisation.
Honouring by name the traditional Gadigal custodians of the land in and around the Sydney CBD, GIS is a reminder of the tragic history of first contact in Australia and that we have never surrendered our cultural sovereignty. Founders Cathy Craigie, the late Matthew Cook and Tim Bishop saw the need for an Aboriginal owned and operated communication organisation in response to negative stereotypes portrayed by mainstream media. They had been inspired by the impact of Radio Redfern, which had given Kooris a voice during the 1980s with up to 30 hours of weekly broadcasts.
tting up GIS in a rented terrace on Cleveland Street followed a long tradition of community organisations in medical, legal, children’s and other services developed by the Aboriginal residents of Redfern, Sydney's Black Capital.
GIS quickly developed a foundation of volunteer support across Sydney, the largest population of Aboriginal people in the country. Additionally, strong volunteer support came from the other First Nations communities that call Sydney home, including many Pacific Islands peoples.
Klub Kooris, featuring talented Aboriginal musicians brought members, supporters and their friends together at venues across the inner city. Despite this groundswell of support, the road to a permanent home has been a long and arduous one. New fm bandwidth licenses for Sydney community radio were not scheduled to be considered until 2001. Through test transmissions as Koori Radio several times a year, GIS was able to build its credentials, as well as a confident and skilled pool of Aboriginal broadcasters, to qualify for a 50kw full time broadcasting license in May 2001. By then Gadigal, unable to continue in its rented premises had moved into share space with other Aboriginal organisations in the former Marrickville Hospital in Sydney’s inner west. It was from here that GIS extended its community outreach program, leading to the establishment of the Young, Black & Deadly workshops in performance and later in radio broadcasting and associated areas such as DJing.
Radio stations and big concerts go together, so in 2002 GIS presented the first Yabun festival at Waverly Oval, Bondi. Moving later to Redfern Park and then Victoria Park to accommodate swelling crowds. Yabun has become an event of national significance, being the biggest one-day Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander festival that showcases Aboriginal culture, music, politics, and other forms of the arts, but most importantly is a celebration of the survival of Aboriginal people, our cultures and spirit, in honour of all who have fought for our right to exist.
GIS was invited to return to its home community in 2008 when the Indigenous Land Corporation ("ILC") built a new office block on the site of the original National Black Theatre in Cope Street, Redfern. The state-of-the -art recording and broadcasting studios on the third floor were equipped through government funding. GIS obtained ownership of this top floor from the ILC on 22 January 2015. Our successes have been hard won. We are never complacent in what we do and continuing to evolve as a media and arts organisation. In 2016, we will be 23 years young. We have new generations of voices to nurture and new messages to send. As we create these spaces for their creative visions, your support is needed more than ever before.
The original logo for Gadigal Information Service was designed and drawn by hand in 1993 by Matthew Cook, a founding member of the organisation. Matthew was from the Bundjalung nation and Dunghutti on his mother’s side. Overlaying the Sydney city skyline with Centrepoint Tower as the symbol of modern communications, the pair of clap sticks are the artist’s symbol and reminder of the sound of Aboriginal people, the first people of this city who had maintained a vibrant cultural life in this region for tens of thousands of years before European settlement. Matthew makes the statement in his logo that with the establishment of Aboriginal controlled media organisations such as GIS, Aboriginal people are taking up the recovery and continuance of their culture and practices that were all but destroyed by the forces of European invasion that landed with heaviest impact right here on the East coast of Australia over 200 years ago. Matthew (Mark) Cook passed away in 1995 at the age of 33. He is remembered well.
The striking exterior of the building GIS occupies was designed by Adam Hill in a commission from the building’s owners, the Indigenous Land Corporation. The black footprints and cascading cherries reference the first full Aboriginal play (rather than a review style production) by the National Black Theatre which had been previously established on the site. The play was The Cherry Pickers by Kevin Gilbert.