All Aboard the Freedom Ride

For the past two months we have commemorated the 50th anniversary of the historic Freedom Ride where Arrente man Charles Perkins led a group of students from the University of Sydney to a select few rural towns in NSW to expose racism and segregation and try to effect change.

The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council was proud to support the Freedom Ride reenactment with some of the original students, including Jim Spigelman who went on to become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Current University of Sydney students also joined the reenactment including Kyol Blakeney, the second Indigenous president of the Student Representative Council.  Film-maker Rachel Perkins, daughter of the late Charles Perkins, represented her father on the journey to Dubbo, Walgett, Moree, Bowraville and Kempsey where hundreds turned up to celebrate, honour and remember the bravery of the original Freedom Riders and our mob in the communities they visited.

The reenactment is now being called more of a revival, as it has inspired and ignited a passion in our communities to further engage in the ongoing battle to achieve equal rights for our people on all fronts. You can read more about it in this edition of our newsletter or online at ourmob.org.au.To relive the commemorations, check out our great photos at https://www.facebook.com/nswalc/photos_stream and while you’re there please like our page!

The celebrations ended with a concert in Sydney featuring Troy Cassar- Daley, Paul Kelly and special guests Dan Sultan, Ursula Yovich and MC Boomali from Collarenebri.

The University of Sydney also staged a panel discussion, titled “Controversial Conversations – Freedom not Frustration”.  The panel heard from many prominent figures including NSWALC North West Councillor Anne Dennis, who acknowledged that we’ve come a long way in Land Rights but still have long way to go.  For example there’s more than 25,000 unresolved Land Claims in NSW. Keep an eye out for Controversial Conversations, on NITV’s Current Affairs program, Awaken, during Reconciliation Week.

In other news, NSWALC has held Zone meetings across NSW to bring members up to date on the recent changes to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and also the NSW Crown Lands Act review.  Late last year NSW Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water Kevin Humphries tabled surprise legislation which if passed would prevent our mob from claiming land in coastal areas.  Thankfully it was stopped but it’s currently under review.  If you would like more information, head to our NSWALC website  or contact the policy department at NSWALC on 02 9689 4444.

Work is also progressing on the first phase of NSWALC’s $16 million Economic Development Strategy with 18 business proposals selected last month.  You can read more about that in this month’s newsletter. We will keep you posted on how that’s tracking throughout the year.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Ride we are giving away a signed copy of Troy Cassar-Daley’s new album “Freedom Ride” to one lucky reader.   Please sign up to our online newsletter for your chance to win.