The past and the future nurture next generation in Wagga Wagga
In 2003, Wagga Wagga Local Aboriginal Land Council had an important decision to make.
Their building was condemned and infested with rodents. But it was also full of significant history, so a decision was made to save it.
Its rich history began at the start of Land Rights Movement. It was the original office of the Wiradjuri Regional Land Council and Wagga Wagga LALC Chief Executive Officer Lorraine Lyons was determined to honour the Land Rights legends of the 1970s and 1980s.
“People come from all over and all walks of life and come here and visit. They feel comfortable, they come in and they see the stories. And the stories of our past is then instilled in the future through the stories written on the wall,” she said.
Today, the LALC has been transformed into a youth and community hub where history and culture form the basis for programs designed to keep young people educated and engaged.
“Youth are our main priority. The youth are so important to our future and youth engagement is very important. We’re going to focus on the health and fitness and start that as a program as a key for kids to come in. Once that sort of starts happening, we’re hoping then to provide some educational programs.”
The Land Council is home to the Warragirri Boxing and Youth Centre where under the guidance of Clive Lyons, young people are receiving more than boxing lessons.
Culture and Heritage Youth Officer Clive Lyons says it’s a holistic program of physical fitness, mentoring, spiritual healing, culture, education and training.
“I see a lot of Indigenous kids, their dream is to be a rugby league player or an Aussie Rules player and when that doesn’t happen things break down around them. So they need that support that there is something after sport,” he says.
For Lorraine Lyons, the Land Rights network will play a central role in delivering this success.
“Identity is very important. We feel that for the children to work on their identity we need to have some spiritual healing. So what I’m hoping to do as a part of that is to provide some educational programs around what the Land Rights movement is all about and how it all began and the people that fought so hard to where we are today. Without that understanding I feel there’s something missing.
“A lot of the older people fought hard for our very rights and my passion is for the younger generation to learn that because kids have lost the way and there’s lot of uneasiness around. While there’s lots of social problems – drug and alcohol usage and those sort of things getting in the way of the kids actually learning who they are – I’m hoping for the future generation that the kids start to learn about culture and heritage and protocols, and to be proud.”