17 November, 2014
Cr Des Jones Western Region Councillor
“Land Rights is about self governing, prosperity and identity driven by the people”.
I’m a Murrawari man, born in Brewarrina in the Mid North West of New South Wales.
I would describe myself as a real people person; I get great satisfaction from meeting and talking to people. I enjoy spending time with family, watching all codes of football and I love golf.
My earlier years were spent living on the river bend in Brewarrina and Bourke in a tin shack.
But I spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years in the Northern Territory where my parents moved to chase the crocodile skin trade. My Dad still lives in Darwin.
I had a good childhood growing up and even though mum couldn’t read or write, she made sure we were fed and got some form of education, a roof over our head and a safe home.
My younger brother and I moved to Dareton when I was about sixteen and started seasonal work. Afterwards I completed a carpentry and joinery trade.
I have been doing regional work for more than 30 years now in housing, health, employment and community development. I was also the regional councilor for ATSIC until its demise.
I got in involved with the Land CounciI after I attended a meeting at Lake Mungo in the early 80’s. There was man standing with a belt buckle in a big black flat hat and he was giving a speech about Land Rights, urging us all to take back what’s ours and to not settle for anything less. When he spoke, people listened and you couldn’t help but be inspired. That man was William Bates. I went and signed up with the Dareton Local Aboriginal Land Council straight away and that was the start of it for me really.
I support 11 LALCs in the far West, 8 are functional while 3 of them are dormant due to non membership, but one of them should be resurrected soon.
All land in NSW belongs to Aboriginal People. Under the Act, crown land is claimable, but I believe not only crown land but all land is ours until some form of treaty is signed.
I believe we should evolve and take our rightful place in NSW as Aboriginal leaders and owners and to self govern on all cultural aspects and not be governed by a system that doesn’t understand us.
We shouldn’t condemn people who strive for this; rather we must support each other in this process and allow the courageous to lead.
I attended the historic Land hand back at Mutawintji in 1998 and it’s milestones like this one which remind me why we were able to achieve so much in Land Rights. It’s because of the courage of the people who took on anybody who believed Aboriginal people weren’t connected to the Land.
It’s an honor and privilege to be elected and supported by Western Region LALC members – my role now is to ensure I continue to support Land Rights in Western NSW and NSW generally.
In my term as an elected councilor for the Far West Region, I’ve been privileged to be part of designing and implementing the new strategic plan with five priorities where Economic Development and wealth creation are key because Aboriginal people have always used the land and its resources including, stones, animals, water, plants to shape the landscape for more than 60,000 years.
An ideal outcome for NSW Land Rights is for Aboriginal people to be self governing in their own country.
I think we should be engaging all our people who are educated, skilled in modern day technology and mixing it with wisdom, culture and knowledge. This will lead to a thriving and vibrant society so we can continue to benefit from our land so future generations can prosper from and maintain their identity. I encourage all Aboriginal people living in NSW to get involved and add value to your Local Land Council.