Redfern has been at the heart of Sydney's Aboriginal community for generations. Large sections of property, known locally as the Block, were bought with the help of the federal government in the early 1970s. The inner city district is within sight of the centre of Sydney. Over the years thousands of people came from all corners of this vast continent looking for work and to meet up with relatives and friends.
The disturbances have come against a backdrop of widespread poverty and a dependency on welfare in many native communities across the country. Aborigines are the most disadvantaged group in Australia. They die on average twenty years younger than their white counterparts and suffer disproportionately high rates of ill health, imprisonment and unemployment. Large numbers of people have self-destructed through the abuse of alcohol and drugs.
Relations between the police and many young Aborigines are often strained at the best of times. What is certain is this violent episode will be a major setback for efforts to improve relations between black and white Australians.