Peter Smith is a Dunghutti man originally from Kempsey. He is a member of the Purfleet-Taree Local Aboriginal Land Council.
Joining a Land Council gives you the right to speak and gives you the right to make decisions about the future. You support other people, you support your Land Councils, your mob, and you are part of setting up a future for communities and the network in general.
Since 1983 our mob in NSW started claiming land under the Land Rights Act. In getting land back we’re also getting on a track to sustainability for our people and making sure that our jarjums have a future.
I’ve been involved in the network for over 20 years, and as an elected Councillor for the past three years.
There are many parts to my family and they are all my inspiration. My wife Sherry is a great role model as an Aboriginal teacher for over 20 years and all my children give me support throughout my whole working career. My father Cecil (Punchy) Smith is a Dunghutti man well known as an Australian boxing title holder; my mother Norma Lardner is a proud Gumbaynggirr woman and she looked after me right through my life to get me where I am today and my Grandmother is Mum Shirl Smith who is a role model not only to me and my family but also for so many Aboriginal people in NSW and their kids.
I go right back to the Regional Land Council days of the 90s. I was chair of the Regional Council in the Central Coast back then and I was chair of Purflett-Taree LALC for ten years. I’ve supported new buildings with people like Manul Ritchie – my mentor and he was a councillor since 1983 – and also with the likes of John Clarke and others. These were buildings such as the Biripi AMS, and the Purfleet LALC and youth centre which wouldn’t have happened without the great support of the Taree Biripi community members.
I like that NSWALC’s gone down the Twitter and Facebook road to reach more young people, we just need to get out there in every way we can. That’s where they all are now on their iPhones and their computers and that’s the way we have to go.
But there’s still the old fashioned way of getting out and encouraging them and showing them what land councils can do, how being part of the network and being part of the decision making , just being part of the land council means that you as a member can help make decisions on the future of your rights.
Our land is a spiritual home of our ancestors and our people, it’s a place of livelihood, it’s a place of healing for our mob. It’s also a place of growing and making sure that your culture is looked after and Land Councils are an important part of helping that happen.