Jonathon Captain-Webb: Manager Land and Property Unit NSWALC
I’m a Dunghutti-Gomeroi man. My father’s family is from Walcha and my mother’s family is from Walgett, but they both moved to Sydney many years ago, and I grew up in Redfern.
I have strong connections throughout NSW with family connections with the Worimi mob in Karuah, Bundjalung in Casino and connections to Ngemba country in Western NSW.
Two of my cultural role models are Uncle Stu McMinn and Uncle Paul Gordon, two men who live their lives through culture and strong traditional values of respect, humility, giving, sharing and looking after Mother Earth. Every day I strive to embed these values into every aspect of my life and pass them onto my children.
I went to Endeavour Sports High School, and while there, the Indigenous Support Officer helped me focus my speaking and advocacy strengths away from football and into the direction of law. I ultimately went on to study a double degree of Arts and Law at the University of New South Wales.
I was selected as a NSWALC Scholarship recipient through the Freddy Fricke program, and then volunteered in NSWALC’s Legal Department while at university. I am a long-time member of Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.
Throughout my studies I worked part-time in the Australian Army as a Rifleman in the Infantry Corps and in corporate law at a large commercial practice, and during that time, it became clear that my heart lay with Aboriginal people and our communities.
So I applied for the position of Manager of the Land and Property Unit at NSWALC, was successful, and have been in the role since early 2017. Having a legal background, I’m able to analyse complex issues involving stakeholders with competing or conflicting interests, and plan solutions.
The Land and Property Unit is NSWALC’s core business, as the unit is responsible for lodging land claims, LALC-proposed land dealings and managing the NSWALC property portfolio. I see the unit as a vital part of NSWALC, a little like a Kangaroo tail. The tail is the most important part of Kangaroo, not to mention the most delicious. The tail gives Kangaroo balance, leverage and provides the propulsion to keep moving forward. Work by the Land and Property Unit directly enhances cultural, social and economic opportunities for Aboriginal communities.
I get a great deal of satisfaction in being part of a greater process of working with Aboriginal communities to enhance cultural, social and economic opportunities through Land Rights.
The work continues, and we need young people to take up the torch and not only continue what’s been built, but develop it further. Land Rights is about every Aboriginal person and as young people will be the ones to take them forward, it’s our business to prepare ourselves professionally and personally.
The first thing to do is to join your Local Aboriginal Land Council. Ask yourself – do I have a vested interest in my community? Do I have fresh ideas? How am I prepared to work to make a difference? You need to join your LALC to voice your opinions, your ideas and solutions. It’s only through active involvement that you you play a long-term role in helping build your LALC’s capacity.
And fundamental to all of this of course is the reason why we’re here. Land. Our existence depends on Gunni Thakun – Mother Earth. Our peoples have traditionally seen Earth as our Mother who provides everything for us, from the air we breathe to the water we drink, and the lives of all the plants and animals too. Mother goes through so much pain on a daily basis. Our impact can be positive or negative. We just need to decide what it will be. What are you living for? What do you want to live for?