Staff Profile: David J. Dennis

“Land to Aboriginal people is paramount.  We live on it, we eat from it, we play, love, explore and learn.  She is our Mother.”

My name is David J. Dennis.

I have two roles at the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC). I’m the Assistant to the Deputy CEO Cal Davis.  I’m also a Project Officer and I manage grants for the organisation (Funeral/Council & Annual Grants).

I’m Gamileroi, born in Walgett but my parents moved to Sydney when I was just 7 years old for work.  My mum worked at Wunanbiri Preschool near Redfern.

My earliest memory of Land Rights is joining the marches in the 1980’s.  We’d all jump on the bus and head to Town Hall in the city where hundreds would gather – all of us united for a great cause.

I was very young but looking back I feel very proud that I was a part of it. It’s ironic now that I’m working for the State Aboriginal Land Council and years later I’d be joining the Crown Lands Cultural Gathering – a peaceful demonstration opposing the 2014 Crown Lands Amendment Bill, which sought to stop land claims on Coastal Lands in NSW.

I am the first point of contact when families make inquiries about funeral grants at NSWALC.  Unfortunately, there’s a lot of deaths in our communities so the grant money serves as a great support to grieving families who are often financially unprepared for funerals.  It’s for this reason I find my job very rewarding.

I love working at NSWALC.  It’s a very multicultural environment in the head office.  I have the great pleasure of working with some very passionate staff who genuinely care and work tirelessly for the betterment of our mob.

I have great respect for my colleague and one of the longest-standing staff members at NSWALC, Phil Mundine.  Phil works in the Media and Communications unit.  He’s a respected elder and has been a great friend and mentor to me.  He has all this amazing knowledge and history stored in his head, which he is always happy to share over a cuppa.

Land to Aboriginal people is paramount.  We live on it, we eat from it, we play, love, explore and learn.  She is our Mother.

A highlight for me in the history of Land Rights is NSWALC returning land to the Local Aboriginal Land Councils.  For example, we recently returned Appin Station back to Menindee LALC in 2014.  It feels like the right thing to do and I think it also empowers LALC’s to create economic opportunities and a sustainable future for generations to come.