OUR HISTORY


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.

Settting 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.

Settting 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.

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.
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Klub Koori events, featuring talented Aboriginal musicians brought supporters and their friends together at venues across the inner city. Despite this groundswell of support, the road to a permanent home was 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 Information Service was unable to continue in its rented premises and had moved into a 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 live performance, radio broadcasting and DJing.
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Radio stations and big concerts go together, so in 2002 GIS presented the first Yabun festival at Waverly Oval in Bondi - moving later to Redfern Park (pictured) 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 on 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.

The striking exterior of the building GIS occupies was designed by Adam Hill (Blak Douglas) a Redfern based Indigenous artist. The artwork is intended to pay homage to the important history of the site. The design is inspired by the story of Kevin Gilbert and his writing of the play, The Cherry Pickers. It was written whilst Gilbert was serving time in prison and was scribed on to toilet paper and smuggled outside, where it became the first Aboriginal play to be published

Our successes have been hard won. We are never complacent in what we do and continue to evolve as a media and arts organisation. We have new generations of voices to nurture and new messages to send. With our hearts full of gratitude, Gadigal Information Service wishes to thank all of the many listeners, volunteers and supporters who have helped us along the way.