Welcome to this combined December/ January edition!
As the year draws to an end, it’s a great time to reflect on the highlights of 2014 and celebrate achievements at both a local and state level, including successful land claims appeals, the launch of the Economic Development Policy, amendments to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (ALRA) and the withdrawal of the 2014 Crown Lands Amendment (Public Ownership of Beaches and Coastal Lands) Bill.
Some of the successful land claim appeals in 2014 included the Newcastle Post Office being transferred to the Awabakal LALC, approximately 7.791 ha of land at Nelson Bay being granted to Worimi LALC and part of the Boggabri Common, a substantial tract of land on the outskirts of Boggabri in North-Western NSW being won on appeal by NSWALC. The Government has also settled the appeal of Parramatta gaol with the gaol and surrounding land to be transferred to the Deerrubin LALC. And after two long decades, the Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council finally won the Red Rock claim – a 3.7km stretch of beach and foredune.
This last win was the catalyst for the controversial Crown Lands Bill, which the NSW Government plans to review and reintroduce in 2015. NSWALC had deep concerns about the Bill as it seriously undermined the ALRA and limited the ability of Aboriginal Land Councils to make claims to certain Crown Land (beaches and coastal lands). Although the Bill was eventually withdrawn thanks to a combination of amazing support from the Opposition, Greens and cross bench parliamentarians together with people power, NSWALC remains concerned about the broader Crown lands review that the NSW Government is currently undertaking.
NSWALC is urging everyone to remain vigilant to make sure that the Government doesn’t attempt to undermine Aboriginal Land Rights again. One of the ways you can have your say and make sure that Land Rights is not undermined is to get on the electoral roll and vote for parliamentarians that support Land Rights and opposed the Bill (for details see page 4 of this newsletter). The other way to have a say is to get involved. In this edition, we profile Councillor Stephen Ryan who says, “We need a succession plan, the current generation is not going to be around forever and the youth have to step up to take that place. Youth need to learn how they can truly benefit from the Land Rights Act.” We want to hear from you, we want to talk to you, we want YOU! We know you care about Land Rights, now we also want you to tell us what you want from Land Rights and how Land Rights are relevant to your mob.
2015 is already set to be a busy year with the NSW Government elections on 28 March 2015, the NSWALC elections on 31 October 2015, and NSWALC’s $16 million Economic Development Policy, which will see 18 business ideas (2 per Region) chosen in December with the trial implementation phase to start in January. NSWALC is committed to driving self-determination – we want our communities developing their own approaches to wealth creation. In fact, LALCs are already engaging in Economic Development. A motel in Orange, quad bike tours in Worimi and a residential property development on the South Coast are just a few examples. Through the Economic Development Policy, we hope to encourage and nurture the growth of many more across the State.
Next year also marks the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Ride, led by Charles Perkins, who with other University of Sydney Students, travelled to country towns across NSW to protest and highlight the inequality and segregation that Aboriginal people suffered under in 1965. The Freedom Ride bought the plight of Aboriginal people to national attention for the first time. Thankfully, things have improved significantly since those times, although there is still much work to be done. NSWALC will be partnering with the University of Sydney and the Charles Perkins Trust to commemorate this historic event in Dubbo, Moree, Walgett and Kempsey with more information to follow.
Keep an eye out for us and say hi to our Councillors at the Yabun Festival and the Saltwater Freshwater Festival on Survival Day January 26th 2015 and remember to visit us at our stall to get some great Who’s Ya Mob gear.
In the mean time, remember to get engaged, be involved and keep Land Rights alive so that future generations can benefit.
Thanks to all who have supported us enthusiastically and signed up to our newsletter. Congratulations to Danielle Annesley from Orange Local Aboriginal Land Council, winner of a brand new Iphone 6 from our November competition which was drawn by Melissa Morrison from the Aboriginal Housing Office.
See you in the New Year and best wishes from all of us at NSWALC to you and your fa