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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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An Afternoon (Aunty Jenny Munro at the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy)

2015
Dr John Janson-Moore

gilcée print on Hahnemühle photorag paper, edition 4/10 (image/sheet: 99.0 cm x 66.0 cm, frame: 115.5 cm x 81.7 cm depth 4.5 cm)
Image not available

Jenny Munro (b. 1956) is a Wiradjuri elder and prominent activist for Aboriginal rights and sovereignty. She has been involved with Aboriginal organisations since she first came to Sydney in 1973 and was at the forefront of the fight for Aboriginal housing at The Block in Redfern, Sydney. Munro's family has a long history in political activism and advocacy, dating back generations, with her great grandfather consistently fighting to stop the removal of Aboriginal people living in the Mission outside of Cowra. Her grandmother was involved in the Day of Mourning meetings in 1938 in Sydney and this legacy of activism forms a large part of inspiration in Munro's continual fight advocacy. Her brother and sister were involved heavily with the Aboriginal political movements in Sydney and in 1972, her siblings gave her the opportunity to travel to Canberra for the first Aboriginal Tent Embassy when she was seventeen. After graduating high school, Munro moved to Redfern and started her career within Aboriginal community-based organisations, notably the Aboriginal Medical Service, the Aboriginal Children's Service and the Aboriginal Legal Service.

In Sydney, she met her husband, Lyall Munro, and they both became founding members of the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC). The AHC was established in 1973 in direct response to the racist and oppressive attitudes towards Aboriginal people, particularly in regards to discrimination within the private rental market and the ongoing conflicts between Aboriginal squatters in Redfern and local authorities. Known as The Block, the AHC began purchasing land using a $500,000 grant from the Whitlam government. In the 1970s and 80s, The Block became a new urban home where Aboriginal people had a sense of belonging and became an important site of Aboriginal self-determination and leadership. She and Lyall moved to an AHC-run house in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville.

In 2014, Munro established the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy, a successful initiative that, after 400 days, resulted in Federal Government intervention, funding and a commitment to affordable housing for Aboriginal people. The embassy was a protest camp with an aim to keep The Block in Aboriginal hands, and to ensure the land is used solely for low-cost housing for Aboriginal people. The embassy was in response to the ongoing complaints that the AHC was not transparent about its financial affairs, and it was accused of nepotism and mismanagement. As median house prices in Redfern doubled in the late 1990s, the AHC began evicting Aboriginal tenants from The Block, and moving them to other AHC-owned houses further away from Sydney's centre. The AHC then demolished the vacated houses on The Block. CEO of the AHC, Michael Mundine claimed The Block was private land and announced plans to use the land across the road from The Block for a $70 million commercial development, including retail outlets, a gymnasium, and housing for 154 non-Aboriginal students from the nearby University of Sydney. On 21 February 2015, Mundine's AHC issued eviction notices to the tent embassy inhabitants, telling them they were on private land and that he would get the authorities to remove them. The Aboriginal people at the tent embassy vowed to stay. In August 2015 the protesters at the tent embassy lost a Supreme court case asking for a possession order for the land. The court instead ruled that the land was the property of the AHC. The protesters previously stated they would not vacate until the AHC prioritised affordable housing for Aboriginal people at the location. The Tent Embassy claimed victory later that month, when the federal government agreed to spent $70 million on 62 homes for Aboriginal people. The embassy has since been closed and as of July 2017, the site remains fenced off and undeveloped.

Purchased 2022
© John Janson-Moore

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Dr John Janson-Moore (age 47 in 2015)

Jenny Munro (age 59 in 2015)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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