Chloe Bennett, Zone Director, Far West Zone
I’m Barkandji and most of my family are in Wilcannia. Growing up in the Northern Territory in Katherine we learnt very little about Land Rights at school so I wasn’t really made aware of it until I was working in the public sector. As my career developed I was able to tap into that as a lot of the work I used to do was in remote communities travelling around as a business and consumer engagement manager.
Before I started at the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), I worked in Aboriginal Affairs for two years in Broken Hill. I come from a project background so my passion has been diving into the implementation of projects, especially ones that benefit community and mob on the ground. Last year I completed a Bachelors degree in Community and Social Development so humanitarian roles are something I really enjoy and embrace.
Coming into the Zone Director’s role, I know I have massive shoes to fill and plenty to learn but I’ve got great mentors being put in place and NSWALC have great support systems for me. I’m looking forward to helping Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) with compliance and building on their existing economic development opportunities. I’m going to miss Ross Hampton – he’s been a great mentor and will definitely be missed but I wish him all the best in his new role at Mildura. It’s clear to see that many LALCs have and will continue to hold Ross in high regard through his demeanour, inspiring leadership and direction in the Land Rights network.
Land Rights to me means a lot of things. It’s about trying to get Aboriginal land for Aboriginal people to develop economic opportunities for communities and create something that younger generations can continue to hold and run – it’s all about the next generation. It’s also a connection back to country – there’s just a feeling you get back when you dig your feet into the dirt and take in the breeze, that feeling of being home. I believe having Land Rights has been a major reconnection for many of our mob by enabling a direct connection to our culture and heritage that we can pass on to our children. We don’t want our kids to be dependent on social welfare. Every parent wants their kids to be all they can be.
When I first started with NSWALC, I really enjoyed getting out there and meeting the board members and LALCs. I’m now looking forward to being able to further build those relationships and get to know our staff and members through projects and partnerships. I think having an understanding of their direction will help our engagement and to assist in networking LALCs with other potential organisations to move towards their own goals and aspiriations.