Unifying different communities in Sydney should be the central focus of local government, the city’s first Indigenous mayoral candidate said today.

Yvonne Weldon a Wiradjuri woman, mum-of-three and a Redfern local, will be pitted against the longtime incumbent Mayor Clover Moore, who has been in office for 17 years.

She is replacing Member for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps on an independent ticket in the September election race, after the councillor withdrew for health reasons two weeks ago.

Speaking at the announcement of her candidacy in Redfern Park, South Sydney, at the spot where Paul Keating delivered his historic address on Indigenous rights in 1992, Ms Weldon said her platform would be based upon unity and bringing people and communities across Sydney together.

“Through unity and working together we’ll be able to achieve the goals that we set out,” she said.

She added she wants more affordability in living across Sydney, including solutions for housing, accessibility to transport, access to local businesses and to help young people remain in the city, not forced out by the high cost of living.

“Sydney is the greatest city in the world, but we’re at a crossroads … our city gave me the opportunity to succeed, but unfortunately my children are being priced out,” she said.

“There’s a lot of talk about social housing and affordable housing, we’re yet to see the products of this.

“We’re seeing more people move out of the area when we want to see more move in.”

Ms Weldon hopes to build a fairer, greener Sydney, where no one is left behind.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, I’ll place fairness and unity at the heart of the recovery program,” she said.

Yvonne Weldon, Dr Kerryn Phelps and Indigenous elder

Yvonne Weldon (Centre), Dr Kerryn Phelps (Right) and Indigenous elder in conversation. Photo: Rachel Clark

“We need to acknowledge our past and we need to make positive changes together … as we move forward.”

As well as being part of Dr Phelps team, Ms Weldon’s career has spanned 20 years. She is the chairperson of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, deputy chair of the NSW Australia Day Council, a board member of Domestic Violence NSW and a board member of Redfern Jarjum College. She has also held senior positions with the NSW Government and Aboriginal Community sectors.

Supporting her at the event Dr Phelps said: “Yvonne has proven her leadership skill and a profound commitment to Sydney and its people.

“It’s an exciting time. Having her name on the ballot is a step in the right direction for a new government.”

Ms Weldon grew up in Redfern and her family has been heavily involved in Indigenous politics since the 1970s.

“This is not just about First Nations people it is about all our people coming together,” Ms Weldon said. “I’m proud to be standing here to contest the election… but there are so many more that need to come behind me and come with me as well.”

Main photo of Yvonne Weldon by Rachel Clark