18 Local Aboriginal Land Councils share in NSWALC Community Fund

18 Local Aboriginal Land Councils share in NSWALC Community Fund

14 November 2016 

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) today announced Community Fund grants for 18 Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs).

NSWALC Chair Roy Ah-See said the grants of up to $50,000 allowed LALCs to purchase and manage land, protect culture and care for country.

Successful LALCs in the 2016 funding round are:

Bathurst (Wiradjuri)     Birrigan Gargle (North Coast)
Brungle Tumut (Wiradjuri)   Coonabarabran (Northern)        
Cummeragunja (Wiradjuri)             Dorrigo Plateau (Northern)         
Griffith (Wiradjuri)  Hay (Wiradjuri)        
Menindee (Western)  Moree (North West)       
Ngulingah (North Coast)   Tibooburra (Western)
Trangie (Central)    Warren Macquarie (Central)
West Wyalong (Wiradjuri)   Wilcannia (Western)
Yaegl (North Coast)     Young (Wiradjuri)


** Details about these projects appear at the end of this media release

Cr Ah-See said the Community Fund was generated through a levy on LALC land dealings with matching contributions by NSWALC.

The Community Fund was introduced following an amendment to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983.

"The Community Fund ensures eligible Local Aboriginal Land Councils can share in the wealth of those that enjoy a strong economic base.

"Some Local Aboriginal Land Councils hold more valuable land holdings and others have less valuable land and development opportunities.

"The Community Fund aims to ensure that all Local Aboriginal Land Councils can share in the wealth of the Land Rights network," Cr Ah-See said.

About the projects:
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Bathurst (Wiradjuri)

Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Toni-Lee Scott said the Community Fund grant would go towards an upgrade of the LALC office.

"The Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council office is the focal point of community functions, celebrations and cultural activities.

"The Community Fund grant will go a long way to ensuring we can offer better levels of comfort for community members, particularly our Elders," she said.

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Birrigan Gargle (North Coast)

Birrigan Gargle Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Norma Collins said the Community Fund grant would go towards the restoration of Pippi Beach Community land at Ngaru Village.

"The funding from the NSW Aboriginal Land Council will help us construct a shed and equipment to care for country.

"The Community Fund will help protect Yaegl cultural sites from damage by dirt bike riders and horse riders trespassing on land.

"It's really important to Yaegl people to be able to properly manage our land and this funding will also help promote awareness of home-grown bush foods and medicines and preserve Yaegl culture," Mrs Collins said.

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Brungle Tumut (Wiradjuri)

Brungle Tumut Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Sue Bulger said the Community Fund grant would allow the LALC to better maintain land around houses in the area.

"The Community Fund grant has come at the right time for the Local Aboriginal Land Council. By purchasing our own equipment, we will be able to offer work and training for community members," she said.

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Coonabarabran (Northern)

Coonabarabran Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Vikki Sturits said the Community Fund grant would go towards the fencing of Burra Bee Dee Mission and Happy Valley Fringe Camp.

"Unfortunately Burra Bee Dee Mission and Happy Valley Fringe Camp need protection from vandalism, illegal dumping and feral animals.

"Once protected, Coonabarabran Local Aboriginal Land Council plan to establish walking tracks and signage for significant cultural sites.

"With schools located nearby, we hope to be able to use the site to educate the wider community about the region's Aboriginal history," Ms Sturits said.

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Cummeragunja (Wiradjuri)

Cummeragunja Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Rebecca Atkinson said the Community Fund grant would help upgrade the Community Hall.

"The Cummeragunja Hall is a gathering place for community and families who have a connection to the country in this area.

"It is used regularly throughout the year for meetings, workshops and cultural activities but the facilities are in urgent need of an upgrade," Ms Atkinson said.

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Dorrigo Plateau (Northern)

Dorrigo Plateau Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Robin Heath said the Community Fund grant would go towards upgrading North Dorrigo Hall.

"Dorrigo Plateau Local Aboriginal Land Council acquired the North Dorrigo Hall last year and will use the Community Fund grant to undertake repairs and maintenance.

"Once repairs have been completed, we intend to use the Hall as a meeting place for cultural activities, community art exhibitions and NAIDOC Week celebrations," Mr Heath said.

He said the funding would also help fund a tractor and slasher to maintain the lawns and adjacent land.

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Griffith (Wiradjuri)

Griffith Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Robert Carroll said the old Griffith police station would benefit from the Community Fund grant.

"Almost a year ago, Griffith Local Aboriginal Land Council was successful in claiming the old Griffith police station

"The police station land claim is a great example of the Land Rights system working for the benefit of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community in Griffith.

"The Community Fund grant will help us get on with the job of upgrading the building, providing training and employment opportunities and an income stream when the property is rented," Mr Carroll said.

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Hay (Wiradjuri)

Hay Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Ian Woods said the Community Fund grant would go towards essential works for disability access and to upgrade infrastructure on the LALC office.

"Hay Local Aboriginal Land Council operates from a building that was constructed more than 100 years ago so it's essential we improve access for our members and visitors, particularly the Elders," Mr Woods said.

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Menindee (Western)

Menindee Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Noelene Ferguson said the Community Fund grant would help upgrade the LALC building.

"The Menindee Local Aboriginal Land Council building is an important location for community meetings and workshops.

"We haven't had the resources to upgrade the building since it was built in 1994 so the Community Fund grant from the NSW Aboriginal Land Council will make a huge difference," she said.

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Moree (North-West)

Moree Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Susan Leslie-Briggs said the Community Fund grant would go towards training community members in rock art conservation at Terry Hie Hie and for projects to care for country.

"Unfortunately, too many of our cultural sites are being damaged by graffiti, feral animals, vandalism, illegal dumping and soil erosion.

"So the NSW Aboriginal Land Council's Community Fund will give our community a chance to protect our land and increase our capacity to manage significant cultural sites," Ms Leslie-Briggs said.

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Ngulingah (North Coast)

Ngulingah Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Mikael Smith said the Community Fund grant would go towards the Cubbawee Infrastructure Project.

"These works will see the installation of male and female toilet blocks. These new facilities will allow us to better cater for Aboriginal education, cultural events and economic activities," Mr Smith said.

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Tibooburra (Western)

Don Stephens from the Tibooburra Local Aboriginal Land Council said the Community Fund grant would assist with the expansion of the LALC's Museum and Keeping Place.

"Since it was established in 2001, the Museum and Keeping Place has received an increasing number of visitors and more space is needed to display artefacts and plan for future acquisitions.

"The expansion will more than double the display and incorporate the latest audio-visual technology.

"Visitors now seek a more interactive and personal explanation of Aboriginal culture so this Community Fund grant will help us better meet those expectations.

"Aboriginal people whose ancestors lived around Tibooburra in 1938 are increasingly interested in learning about their heritage.

"We also receive regular visits from locals, schools and university students," Mr Stephens said.

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Trangie (Central)

Trangie Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Terrie Milgate said the Community Fund grant would be used to repair country.

"The NSW Aboriginal Land Council's Community Fund grant will help us better manage our land and also provide some of our community with skills in fencing and looking after our land.

"This will build the confidence of participants and hopefully create more work opportunities for local Aboriginal people," Mrs Milgate said.

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Warren Macquarie (Central)

Warren Macquarie Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Keith Redman said the Community Fund grant would be used to make improvements to a walking trail connecting Beemunnel Aboriginal Reserve, Tiger Bay Wetlands and the Window on the Wetlands Centre about 1.7 km from Warren.

"The Beemunnel Reserve is of great historical significance to the Wayilwan people and contains a large number traditional Aboriginal sites.

"Working in partnership with RiverSmart Australia and Warren Shire Council, Warren Macquaire Local Aboriginal Land Council is providing our young people with an opportunity to deepen their connection to country," Mr Redman said.

Mr Redman said Wayilwan Elders and young people would work together to organise and position interpretive signage

"Further development of the trial and the addition of signage will empower young Aboriginal people to celebrate their identity and also educate non-Aboriginal people about our culture," he said.

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West Wyalong (Wiradjuri)

West Wyalong Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Leeanne Hampton said the Community Fund grant would go towards the protection of artefacts.

"Many important Aboriginal artefacts are on display at the Local Aboriginal Land Council but there is an urgent need to extend the museum area.

"This will provide better protection of our culture and provide better access for the wider community, including tourists," Ms Hampton said.

Recently the Local Aboriginal Land Council had a rare, sacred carved tree returned to the community.

"The upgrade of the Museum will empower Aboriginal people to be proud of their cultural identity and to share our culture with the wider community around West Wyalong," Ms Hampton said.

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Wilcannia (Western)

Upgrade Wilcannia Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Thwaites said the Community Fund grant would help with expansion plans for the LALC.

"The role and functions of the Wilcannia Local Aboriginal Land Council have expanded over the past five years with office space made available to other organisations and services.

"This expansion is set to continue with partnerships being established with the Murdi Paaki Regional Enterprise Corporation and the TAFE.

"At the moment Murdi Paaki Regional Enterprise Corporation has established a small olive grove and the Local Aboriginal Land Council will be the base for employment and training for Aboriginal people.

"The Local Aboriginal Land Council is also in discussions with Wilcannia Central School about running Barkandji language classes for adults from our offices.

"The Community Fund will put Wilcannia Local Aboriginal Land Council at the centre of community efforts to create jobs and training and preserving Barkandji culture," Ms Thwaites said.

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Yaegl (North Coast)

Yaegl Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Noeline Kapeen said the Community Fund grant would go towards the restoration of Ulugundahi Island restoration

"Ulugundahi is culturally-significant to Yaegl people. It's where our ancestors were made to live after the invasion. They created a livelihood on the island by growing fruit and vegetables and managing livestock.

"This funding from the NSW Aboriginal Land Council will help us manage and care for country and allow Yaegl people to reconnect to culturally-significant lands," Mrs Kapeen said.

"The Yaegl community will have an opportunity to work on country and gain an appreciation of the country our ancestors once lived.

"The Community Fund grant will also support our Elders in reconnecting with young people and instilling in them a strong sense of connection with land.

"In the future, Yaegl Local Aboriginal Land Council would like to see schools and community members participating in cultural tours and learning more about our history," Mrs Kapeen said.

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Young (Wiradjuri)

Young Local Aboriginal Land Council Chief Executive Officer Norma Freeman said the Community grant wold be directed towards a renovation of LALC office

"The Young LALC office is in urgent need of renovations to improve access for community and the working environment for staff.

"Upgrading the air-conditioning and facilities will also provide relief for our members, particularly Elders, when they attend meetings and functions in summer and winter.

"The Young Local Aboriginal Land Council has a strong working relationship with the Shire Council, schools and other community groups.

"The renovations to our Young Local Aboriginal Land Council will allow us to invite more community groups to our offices, particularly during events like NAIDOC Week.

Visitors would be able to see our artefacts and hear stories about Wiradjuri traditions and culture," Ms Freeman said.

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Media contact: Andrew Williams 0429 585 291