Indigenous Buskers May Not Need A Permit In Some Parts Of Sydney

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would no longer need a busking permit to perform in some of Sydney's public spaces, under a new council proposal. 

The City of Sydney has reviewed its current busking policy, adopted in 2011, to "simplify the busking experience" and reduce "red tape" barriers to indigenous people sharing their cultural heritage. 

Russell Dawson, a Kamilaroi man who has been performing for about 30 years, welcomed the move.

"It's a free culture show so we should have the right to perform it, and other people to see it."

It comes after the state government's  consolidated the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority took control of performers along the city's foreshore, including Circular Quay and Darling Harbour -- two of the city's busiest busking sites.

Currently performers, including those who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, are obligated to apply for and obtain a performance permit as well as public liability insurance.

Along the Sydney foreshore, the SHFA has selected sites for use by "accredited" indigenous buskers, through negotiation with the Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council.

READ MORE: PM Wants To Recognise Australia's Indigenous History

Image: Koomurri Facebook Page

Under the new policy, permits would no longer be required for them to perform in spaces managed by the City council, not by the SHFA.

"We've developed the policy with the help of musicians, performers, residents, businesses, music industry representatives and government agencies," Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

"Our new policy recognises the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to experience and share their cultural heritage in the public domain."

Dawson has been dancing for 30 years -- many of those with his company Koomurri in sites across the city, including on Sydney Harbour.

He told ten daily his company hasn't used a permit for years, thanks to an agreement with the Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council.

But it's one they had to fight for.

"We've been fighting the policy for 30 years, because we simply don't agree with it," he said.

"They're telling us we need permission to perform and share our culture. We don't need permission. Aboriginal people have the right to do so on ceremonial grounds."

Dawson said the policy change could help other Indigenous performers and called on other local councils to follow suit.

"Times are changing and we need to come together. That's what the City is doing; they're coming on board and supporting the movement, so job well done."

Among the changes, the new draft policy replaces the use of location maps with criteria to assess a suitable busking location, anywhere in the local area.

It is open to public feedback until the end of October.

A spokesperson for Property NSW, who runs the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority Busking Policy, said it would review the feedback and "consider how any new policy could complement our own guidelines".