Our Land, Our Future

Welcome to our first newsletter for 2015!

It’s already set to be a busy year…

Late last month we celebrated Survival Day at Yabun in Sydney and the Saltwater, Freshwater Festival in Coffs Harbour.

Both events were sponsored by NSWALC, and they didn’t disappoint. Not even the rain in Sydney or the humid conditions in Coffs Harbour could keep mob away. As usual, there was great entertainment, cultural performances and a great sense of pride. Make sure you go online to view our video stories and check out the colour of the day.

As part of its ongoing conversations with the Land Rights network and its supporters NSWALC held a panel discussion at Yabun, “Our Land, Our Unfinished Business” which set out the strategic priorities at NSWALC and also aimed to engage youth, something 29-year old Josh Toomey, chairman of Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, is very passionate about.

“We want young people to start to stand up and get involved, not just to come to our barbecues and help cook the barbies. We want them in the front line. We want them in the boardroom,” he said.

Engaging youth is a high priority for NSWALC this year and it’s something that strongly resonates at a local level.

Chris Spencer, CEO of Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council (which we also profile in this edition) says: “We are fortunate to have the best Land Rights legislation in Australia, but it’s still hard to navigate and Land Rights is an ongoing fight in Australia.”

Mr Spencer says: “The youth are our future leaders. If we don’t provide an opportunity or an avenue for our young people to be able to be engaged, be a part and feel a part of a Land Council, then I feel that we are failing our Elders that have gone before us.”

Our elders stood tall and were able to assert themselves marching for Land Rights in the 1970s and 1980s.

Before that, it was the Freedom Ride, led by an Arrente man from Alice Springs, Charles Perkins. The Freedom Ride, made up of students from the University of Sydney, including Gumbaynggirr Elder Gary Williams, helped expose entrenched racism and segregation in regional NSW. This month is the 50th year anniversary of the Freedom Ride and NSWALC is joining with the University of Sydney and the Charles Perkins Trust to recreate this historic journey.

It’s not long now until the NSW Government elections. Voters head to the polls on Saturday, 28 March 2015. Make your voice count by voting, and vote for Land Rights! Remember, the Crown Lands Bill late last year which wouod have stopped land claims on coastal lands was only stopped because the NSW Government did not control the Senate – keep your parliamentarians accountable! Remember you can also earn some quick cash on the day working at electoral booths. Go to https://www.elections.nsw.gov.au/working_at_elections to pre-register your expression of interest or for more details.

Lastly, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council elections will be held on 31st October 2015. It’s a great opportunity for mob to choose who they think can best represent them at a State level and provide sound and strategic leadership to safeguard our kid’s future. We look forward to bringing you more information in future editions and online about the NSWALC elections and how you can get on your Local Aboriginal Land Council roll and support Land Rights – for more information on membership go to www.oralra.nsw.gov.au/mship.html. Remember, you don’t have to attend Local Aboriginal Land Council meetings to vote in the NSWALC elections, but you do need to be on the roll as a voting member to have your say and elect the next Council of NSWALC in October 2015.