Transcript of Connecting Health and Cultural Heritage.

Geraldine Wilson-Matenga, Executive Director, Centre for Aboriginal Health: Thanks everyone for coming today to our final Wingara for the year. Our theme for today is 'Connecting Health and Cultural Heritage' and we are really lucky today to have here with us presenting the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Lands Council and hello to everyone who is online as well, across all the districts, welcome. I would like to invite Aunty Ann Weldon to perform our Welcome to Country today for us. Aunty Ann?

Aunty Ann Weldon: Good afternoon everybody, I made it here. I'll tell you what ... it’s that time of the year where you think you're gonna get through to the last day of this week and I just love the transport in Sydney, it's beautiful. But it's amazing how gubbas (non Aboriginal people), I know that plenty of you here is but they always have to dig and change things, digging roads and diggin' here and diggin' there changin' this and changin' that and then you have fun trying to get from Dulwich Hill into Redfern to catch a train everyday, cause they’re digging holes in the ground I'm afraid that they might cave in and we're all lost to another part of the world.

What I need to firstly make you aware of is I am a Wiradjuri Koori Balung and of course I know that other Aboriginal people are here and I just want to stir you all up to make you aware that Wiradjuri is the mightiest nation of Aboriginal people in this country. Wiradjuri itself means 'the three river people' and of course the three main rivers of our songline, our blood line of Wiradjuri, is the Murrumbidgee, the Lachlan which has been renamed, our traditional owners named Kalare which was renamed to the Lachlan and the Wambool which has been of course renamed to the Macquarie. See that's what I mean about gubbas changing things you know, they got to leave to even change the names of our rivers perhaps that might be an initiative that governments here in New South Wales can rename, take away the English names and give it back to the rightful owners; names of the rivers which is symbolic and certainly there is significant meaning in the name. and I belong to the Kalare River people. I grew up in Erambie Reserve.

I'm an elected board member of Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and an elder of New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council and Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and a mother of three daughters and a grandmother of eleven beautiful grandchildren that range from the age of 26 to five and the five year old believe she's going on 25 she certainly, I mean you watch your space with that kid.

Firstly, I need to make you aware that this particular part of Eora country, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council is the cultural authority and custodian of culture, heritage, land and waterways and I stand proud of my peoples riches of our culture and indeed our strong resilience. I acknowledge of course all other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal brothers and sisters here in the room this afternoon as many of you no doubt have come near and far to actually get here this particular place. I acknowledge the owners of the land on which we gather the Eora Nation and Cammeraygal clan. The Cammeraygal clan was one of 29 clan groups of the mighty Eora Nation and I pay my respects to all elders past, present and indeed emerging elders of tomorrow from our many Aboriginal nations across our lands.

I express my deepest appreciation and realise our world as certainly made a better future, made many many sacrifices rather to build a better future for us all. For we have survived I hope the worst of times and we will continue attending our sacred lands for the millennium to come. For my people, Aboriginal Australia would have existed and belonged to these lands that stretches beyond sixty thousand years. As Aboriginal people we know the tremendous importance of country, we come from it and we are one of the richest and the oldest continuing cultures in the world. And we believe, or I believe the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through our uncertain times, futures we've looked a further a vision through the realisation of endeavours that protect our diverse cultures, our lands, our language, our emotional and our spiritual wellbeing, our ceremonial ways of prayer and through our journeys educated nurturer children and grandchildren. I learnt my Wiradjuri culture and traditions by the teaching and by listening to my elders. From my elders informed the truth from their lifelong experiences and the facts they have seen through their eyes.

As a Wiradjuri koori balaagan like you and of course I didn't explain to you what balaagan is, in my language means 'woman'. I would like you to be proud and stand with us to walk beside us, please please don't walk ahead of Aboriginal people. Allow us as Aboriginal people to share the world that our country has to offer. And it is doing this with us instead of you making decisions for us that will allow us to create our own pathways, build our own future and certainly help heal, heal this country.

The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Lands Council and we certainly promote a vision of working together as one community and to achieve as one community and our boundary spans from the Hawkesbury to the north and the Nepean to the west and the Georges river to the south. As an elder and as a board member but more importantly with the permission of Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council I welcome you all here this afternoon to the land of the Eora Nation of the Cammeraygal people and I also take this opportunity to thank the New South Wales Ministry of Health and of course Geri I mean, I remember Geraldine when she was a little bright-eyed possy-tailed young migay who worked here. She started here with my daughter Paula who worked here many many years ago so it's wonderful to come back here and actually see Geraldine in the position that she's in. It's certainly been wonderful to observe from the sideline her journey and of course many other people that are here.

I feel delighted that I have actually been asked to come here and actually conduct the welcome to the Wingara Aboriginal Health seminar series. I mean I'm a living testament, I'm a walking dead women certainly need to take at least every morning six tablets and three of them at night which would have to kick in. But I have reached the age that I have because of that medication. Sadly most of my family members died at a very young age and in fact one of my uncle had his first heart attack at 28 years of age and when I grew up, I grew up when my mother gave birth to me it was in a segregated section of Cowra District hospital and then we weren't even classified as human beings of our own country at that particular point in time and we used to receive rations from the mission manager so that would line us up on a Saturday morning enough to go over to the treatment room but of course they will check your head you know your eyes and another give us these awful long tablets and then would be issued with our supply of sheep dip. So that sheep dip was to sterilize and cleanse us as Aboriginal people. So when I think back and reflect on what we had to live, the conditions we had to live under, it was absolutely horrendous, that was here in Australia. That wasn't overseas that was here in our country. But it was through the fortitude of my forefathers of my mother and my father and my grandparents that have certainly allowed me to stand before you here today.

We still got a long way to go health wise, I know it would be challenging for you people that are employed in this area but the key to it the key to it, to us improving our health is by listening and allowing Aboriginal people, let us as Aboriginal people decide what we need to decide that is best for us instead of us being told what to do and how to do it. And you know you can do that through meaningful partnerships with Aboriginal people so that we then can ensure that our children and grandchildren, because I certainly know I educated my children and likewise with my grandchildren there's far too many of our people dying to young in this day and age that shouldn't be the case. My sister died when she was only in her fifties of renal failure and I said thank you for allowing me to come here and one thing that I also asked you to do is to remember our loved ones that have passed over before us the incredible giants that allowed each and every one of us to stand on their shoulders, the beautiful people sitting and standing beside you now but more importantly those gorgeous, precious ones that follow in our footsteps. So may my peoples' spirit walking and guide all of us, as we continue on their journey together and let that journey be one way you can certainly develop meaningful partnerships with Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council because I know that under our present leadership we've got Nathan here today to do a presentation, under Nathan's leadership as our CEO and Yvonne my daughter as the Chair, has achieved we certainly made for meaningful partnerships with other sectors of our community. So I ask you that if you certainly want to form a solid partnership and I know that we've got some beautiful I mean there's some solid strategies that we have within our Local Land Council that can certainly help us go forward with you, so once again, welcome to the land of the Eora Nation. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land, thank you very much.

Geri Wilson-Matenga Executive Director, Centre for Aboriginal Health: Thank you Aunty Ann for your wonderful Welcome to Country. There were so many important messages in your welcome today. I would like to pay my acknowledgment to you also for the wonderful work you have done over many many years being such a strong leader and advocate for Aboriginal people in NSW and it's people like me who get to do the job that I do today because of people like you, so thank you. I would also like to acknowledge the Cammeraygal people of the Eora Nation pay my respects to elder's past and present and emerging leaders all of my Aboriginal colleagues here in the room today Aunty Ann, Nathan and all colleagues across the Ministry who are here today and online as well. We are very lucky to have with us today Nathan Moran who is the CEO the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal lands Council, and we’ve asked Nathan here today to present our final Wingara because we thought it would be a really good way to sum up the year really and the Wingara series and all that we've been trying to do with the Centre for Aboriginal Health this year and for many years actually is about bringing culture to the work that we do and it's the centrality of culture that we do in health and wellbeing and the importance of that and we thought that the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Lands Council was a perfect way to end the year and to close off the series this year we're bringing all of that together and hearing about the work that they do and also to share some of the local history and stories from the local people from Cammeraygal and Gadigal clans. Thank you I will hand over to you now Nathan.

Nathan Moran, CEO Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council: Geez my, I confess, firstly apologies if I don't get seen in the World Wide Web there I'm conscious that we're being watched from geez from the Paarkinji people and Barkindji people's right up to Bundjulung country down to Yuin country and out to Marawari country the Northwest, the Southwest, the Northeast and the far Southeast of the state is a pretty daunting thing to know that they're out there on the web watching me so apologies for that.

Firstly may I start with saying bajuri gamarruwa gamaragul wingara simply means g'day welcome to Cammeraygal country more importantly to be here today for the Wingara Seminar and I acknowledge the Centre for Aboriginal Health in arranging for me to come over today and also just as importantly if not more to get Ann to perform the welcome and acknowledgement to country to commence. I acknowledge and stand here today my challenge is to try and do justice to the requests that I've had today to talk about the role of the Land Council particularly the role of the Land Council in health and wellbeing, culture and heritage protection and to talk about the local history of the Cammeraygal people.

I've prepared a PowerPoint, feel free to get a copy of this sent to you to assist to introduce the role of the Land Council and so I should go back before the fingers start getting nervous and say to acknowledge the emblem and the symbol which you see on the PowerPoint that is really the logo of the land council and it's got to deep bedded history in acknowledging the foundations of the land council. I'll speak about more depth very shortly about interconnectivity but to acknowledge of course that's the mural that you see when you walk out around the railway line at Redfern. When facing north directly to the city that's the artwork that was famously painted in 1983, the '40,000 years is a long long time' some people refer to it as the 40,000 years mural certainly very proud to say that the land council adopted that as its logo in 1983 and very recently worked with the state government, the local Redfern train station group to get the mural repainted again and its back shining in its colour just like you see there now, but that actually encompasses and represents many mergings that is the land council. In the centre is an art that is of course the Rainbow Serpent many may be able to see the link in the correlation between great creation stories of Australia, but also intrinsically within it is different art forms, you see the dot art, the cross hatching representing the great two differences of art in this country of freshwater and saltwater art and to acknowledge really that's the backdrop of Metro Land Council.

You see Metro Land Council has a formal legislated role to play in the New South Wales Land Rights Act. It establishes our Charter, our aims and our objectives and really sets out on which we operate our business. But to point out our history that formerly we've been around for over thirty years known as Metro Land Council but for nearly forty years our community known the land council to be Redfern Land Council when it first began as a voluntary council in the 1970s and then in 1983 and 84 it took on the name Metro Land Council so it's very important to point out that Metro Land Council represents the first births, the first starts of the National land rights movement, was founded in Redfern. Then acknowledging from a cultural context the role that we do is to try and introduce those who haven't seen the colours and connectivity of the great island known as Australia to introduce it to people, but also to acknowledge we displayed this map for the first time internationally in the year 2000 as part of the Olympics. This was at the entrance the expo that was set aside by Metro Land Council to be part of the Olympics in the year 2000 to display the interconnectivity of all the First Nations people's, cultures and languages of the Great Island of Australia apologies to the Tiwi and the Pallawa who got cut off at the north and the top and the bottom.

More pointedly for us as a local land council it's all about mapping, anybody knows land rights knows you got to stick within your boundary. I can't even fit our boundary into a slide to attest to you and that probably tells our history more. That we stretched from virtually right in the south corners in Bankstown Bidjigal country. We extend all the way up to the north up to Darkinjung country but we also transition into one a Wonnarua country in the far north north-western corner and in the north-western corner we touch upon Wiradjuri country. Ann may have mentioned that little nation just west of us earlier. Sorry the largest nation I'd point out that's an in-house joke, but to point out that Metro land council we cover over 23 local government areas, 4 state government district areas, tens of thousands of Aboriginal people, approximately near 16,000 according to the last census, but over two million non-Aboriginal people or gubbas as they're commonly referred within our boundary. We are established under the land rights act to preserve, promote and protect the culture and heritage of the area we look after. On the screen beside me is a list of just some of the names of the cultural groups that we look after. There is an internal acknowledgement that your better telling truth through satire and we say we look after the 'gal' group and the gal group are sometimes referred to as the Eora Nation and quite openly everyone who ends in gal belongs to or as an affinity to the greater group known as we recognises in the Eora. That's whether they're Bidjigal in the far southwest, Gadigal in the center of the CBD where the penal colony was established, Cammeraygal where your standing or Birrabirragal into the far north-western, Garigal into the far northwester areas and all those in-between that ending gal, gal being the word for 'collective' of course but acknowledging all of the different groups that make up the Eora Nation and also as I mentioned Darkinjung, Wonnarua and Wiradjuri who are the cultural areas that we take care of, preserve and protect under land rights.

The Acts' very boring and bland in that it sets out like all acts just so straight out sections and the relevant sections of the Land Rights Act is section 52 part 4 under culture and heritage as I espouse to preserve, protect and promote the culture and heritage within our boundary. The job that we performed daily, weekly, and as Ann alluded to earlier when at the end of the year it seems like forever but no it is to acknowledge in perpetuity we hope to again take control of the four and a half thousand cultural sites that are registered today, but we acknowledge this probably just as much if not ten times more than is not registered and that's a huge challenge for us in working with colonial government who wants to control our culture and heritage to say we can register it but it's still in your domain and under your control that's quite a challenge because it's against everything of our ethos to maintain the protection, preservation and control is to be done by our people but unfortunately we work through that reality that under National Parks and Wildlife Act we actually have to work with them as the greater prevailing power. But working with them we have four and a half thousand cultural sites and when I say cultural sites that is every encompassing part of culture whether that scar trees, burial sites, midden sites or fantastic rock art that I'll show you a little bit about in a minute but to stop on the rock art and tell you that a Eora is the centre of rock art for the Great Island of Australia, it's the place where you see both types of rock art that you don't see in other parts of Australia and that is engraved rock and also ochre painted rock and it’s right here in the ochre country where it's famously maintained and the practitioning was centred.

Acknowledging in the role of culture and protection but it's probably ironic I put up this engraving now our greatest challenge is the protection of these sites, acknowledging that they're in the domain of national parks, the majority of them, some are on private lands, very few and far between in fact, less than 1% is on Aboriginal land owned and controlled by us. I'm proud to say one of the most distinct cultural sites is on our land. But for this example you see behind me beside me is the whale spirit on the northern beaches of Sydney, I won't give away its exact location, but I'll say it's under great threat, not just from the rock that you can see breaking in the center of the picture but more importantly from government proposed projects and that's where we get very saddened that our culture is not valued at the same level as a post office, as a colonial jail, as a colonial head piece of sandstone. We think our rock, our sandstone, ironically the same sediment in some cases or granite, should be given at least the same acknowledgement in value, and in fact we'd say it's probably should have a little bit more higher value if you look at people who embark on tours around the world to go to Machu Picchu or go to Egypt to try and look at old cultures. It's so sad to acknowledge we've got the oldest living culture right here, right now and it's under threat from developments, dukins, wombad nurragah people that is all the different words of the state for stupid people. And also those who over love and over care our sites and sometimes forget to actually work through us or with us and do it without us and that's where they re-ingroove but there's certainly a major challenge in maintaining the culture and heritage. But that very site you're looking at recently had the New Zealand Maori come over for the Tahora whale Exhibitions - that's the site they wanted to see, along with a number of other sites attributed to our affinity with whales and particularly the relationship of the Eora people and the collective clans as keeping the place where whales were birthed and that is the Boorabera creation story or Sydney Harbour today.

I touched on the other type of rock art and that's hand-stencilled ochre art. You may hopefully just see the hand stencil in the middle right smack in the middle what you might need to see but is on the far left hand corner of the picture and that is where archaeologists, thieves or others have come across and stolen the hand stencils. And that's occurred in the last five years. That site’s on private land, that site’s very vulnerable. It has residential homes surrounding it, it's in the epicentre of Sydney's commercial districts we hope that sites like that can be given value when the state government or others may choose to buy it back and allow it to be protected into the future. It's also aligned to a midden site, camp fire, occupation site for the Bidjigal people, without giving away its exact location.

Another example of the role in culture and heritage was the recovery of this very fish hook you can see here. This fish hook was taken from Garigal country just three and a half years ago in a project with Metro Land Council and Sydney Water in recovering some artefacts off a midden site that was threatened. Very proud to say that that fish hook now has formed the model that is now the monument for the Eora people that will be put up in Governor's House over on the other side in Gadigal country very soon, that was announced by Clover Moore on behalf of the City Sydney New South Wales government to have a statue, a monument for the Eora people to represent that rich history of fishing. That's official guys. Unfortunately the the bit that connects up the line or the twine has been snapped off right there where the arrow is but to acknowledge that for us it's a great bit of big noting to say we know we were the first fisherman that just proves it. But at the same time that deep respect for us is to show we had comparable human systems to anyone on earth I'm sure you all still want to go fishing today, we've been fishing for a long time as that hook attests.

In the role of culture and heritage preservation, protection and promotion it probably gets no more important, significant than trying to get renewal acknowledgement and recording of our histories. That ten years after the colony set up within proverbially 150 metres from where the crow flies or an eagle flies if you go direct from Government House/Macquarie’s Chair we held a full-blown kippa in my language where I come from as a Biripi and Thungutti, corroboree many call it or ceremony for the majority was a full-blown Eora ceremony, that very ceremony as you can see in the picture was sketched and depicted by local artists. Was actually led by the Cammeraygal People. They were the leaders of the ceremony and the irony that they came over and led that last full-blown ceremony in 1798 still remains for us. Also I suppose also, the typography in the actual sketch it's a little bit more clear than the one you can see there, shows what's a beautiful landscape and manicured country that they maintained and preserved and prevailed over.

In changing up from the role that we play, outside of culture and heritage about health and wellbeing. That bit of art that you see on the screen is probably the most intrinsic history lesson for anyone about the history of Metro Land Council in the centre, points of contact in history that shaped us and formed us to have what we have today and that is the Metro Land Council, being the MLAC in the middle. But I'd like to acknowledge the artists firstly and a very dear man in Uncle Ray Vincent who passed away who bequest this artwork to us to tell the story of how the land council interconnects through history to today, all of the different movements that are known as collectively the Redfern community, land rights and the rights agendas and acknowledging that down the bottom there's the date of 1788, one very key point in history and time of course for the Gadigal people. Of course that being the establishment of the penal colony. Probably more pointed is the fact that Uncle Ray didn't mention 1883. Those who know history would attest that it has significance, but it's more significant in colonial history that's when you locked us up, imprisoned us up and forced us onto concentration camps or what's known as reserves or missions. I remember in talk with Uncle Ray I said to him you didn't put the missions down he said what's good about that, struck me straight away, how true. So he chose to leave out the mission in reserves and he jumped right up until 1938 which is right next to the land council.

Those who aren't aware, you should be aware of the deep history that 1938 has for our people, it's the first national united protest in solidarity to call for rights for First Nations people or Aboriginal People. Where we stood on the streets to call the Day of Mourning on the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the penal colony that's today called Australia Day. Our old people absconded and broke the laws of the day to leave their reserves and missions to travel from places like Cummeragunja in Victoria, from Queensland South Australia and other places hundreds and thousands of kilometres to converge on Sydney Town to Eora country, to stand together and say in a collective way we have rights. And they actually put together a 10-point plan what we know to be the first 10-point plan or rights charted by First Nations people on earth. Formally, to be put out to the penal colony or the invaders upon the land to which they'd taken. Great thing and I'll show you some photos very shortly about that but then acknowledging from 1938 the impact that that had certainly had an irreversible impact to say that certainly within one generation or there abouts we'd seen 1967 and I note that Unc didn't put that on there either because that's not about our mobs triumph, that's about colonial counting.

What he points down to is 1972 and 1971 and as in his own words he said that's when we were alive with passion and we were calling for the rights that our old people had put out in the Charter of 1938 and I'm proud that Ann's here today. She was one who was at the forefront of that very time and all those Aboriginal elders whether you're out there in the Wide Web Apologies, I can't see you but I can feel you. To acknowledge that all of our old people certainly Ann, my mother's age group and all their peers. The work that they did post 1967, up until 1971 and 72 led to all of the circles that surrounds Metro land Council. Whether that's the children service and the right they're acknowledging that the legal service was probably the first founded community service, we have the medical service and many more services that are established in the backyard that is known as Redfern. We're very proud to say also to acknowledge that RAB had been playing rugby league permanently since the 1940s, is a strong part of our community's history, but it's more about the community-controlled organisations.

From the first legal services, children services, medical services, preschools, church groups, men's groups, family services, the list goes on. But also embedded in this beautiful history is not just politics it's the humanity of acknowledging social places like the Palms, the Clifton, definitely an Aboriginal social place. But the Palms was actually a much more deeper cultural connection from Aboriginal people to other ethnic people and to attest the history of Redfern has a great ethnic history, that is that in Redfern you could be proud to be whatever you were, are and should be. Whether you were Chinese, Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Afghan. That's the place where people are able to be themselves and it's the first time that First Nations people of Australia, could dare I consume the word called 'hamburger' was tasted. Because we're allowed in the shop Firstly, we weren't denied access, we weren't roped off into the Aboriginal section. Greek, Italian, Chinese and all the different beautiful ethnic people of Redfern allowed us in open access, equity, equality. It was first realised in Redfern. So our community always acknowledges the important collective ethnic history of Redfern. That it's not just seen as an Aboriginal history but also a great ethnic history.

There's the working classes of Redfern but also to point out the esteemed role of different things like the black theatre which is over on the far side here. That it was through comedy, performing arts that were able to tell our stories firstly, openly, without fear of being attacked or otherwise. And as you're probably hopefully seen, if you haven't get on to ABC, and have a look at the black theatre series that's been recently done in the last two years with Uncle Gary Foley who was there with Ann and others in the heart of Redfern in 71 and 72, to get that history of how we use comedy, satire, theatre to get our stories across. But that certainly had a huge Role, the black theatre, and it's very much the place where land rights was born in that in 1977 the first open election of the New South Wales Land Council was held, and that ironically states that at seven years prior least seeks to funding be made available, formal legislation being passed at the leadership of those old fellas, who went ahead in 1977 and convened the state land council election. And that's on the back of 1976, losing the national land rights movement, on the basis of the Commonwealth Government giving the NT, the Northern Territory Land Rights Act, that disseminated our national movement. But I'm so proud that our people didn't end, walk away, finish in a row, give up. They just returned to home base and formulated the New South Wales Land Rights Act. And as I stand here today I'm in deep honor and respect to those old fellas, because without them we wouldn't have New South Wales land rights. We're the only state that has land rights Northern Territory is a territory controlled by the Commonwealth, no state was able to find maturity, leadership or Otherwise, maybe from our community the call for land rights to actually have it happen. And I know I speak with a broken heart from my Murri brothers and sisters, Noongars and Nungars and other brothers and sisters, be they Pallawa or otherwise who don't have land rights. They have no effective unified system like us.

So as hard as it is in New South acknowledge we've got an advanced right System, the most advanced system. Which establishes us to improve protect and foster the best interests of all Aboriginal people in our council area. Which brings me to where do we do it from? If you don't know that's us, We're the white gated community of Redfern, pardon the pun, it's the truth. If you walk past there's a white gate that's just been the photos taken inside of. You'll see the emblem the logo at the front the flag flying and I'm very proud to say a refurbished carpark I think to a community partnership with lend-lease recently it's all painted up and fresh again. We operate from 36 to 38 George Street, Redfern. We operate with $148,000 dollars of guaranteed funding to service sixteen thousand Aboriginal people to look after four and a half thousand culture and heritage sites, to provide community benefits of funeral assistance, sponsorship, social housing and provide events. The grand total of assistance guaranteed is one hundred and forty eight thousand dollars. It's about eight cents a blackfella we worked it out one time at a board meeting. So I'd suggest it's a great success story that no one looks at and breaks down to a bottom-line. How much do you get and what do you do? And the astoundedness of faces when they realise that is amazing.

So I'm proud to say that our headquarters does everything from advocating the needs of our members and community, looking after the land claims and the assets that we've gained through land rights and in some cases through successful applications to the Indigenous Land Corporation such as Elizabeth Street. But just to summarise we've got some really beautiful land holdings at Elizabeth Street, the Day of Mourning site is now currently owned by us, we’re the custodians of that very site where the protest took place in 1938. We own Skippy and we haven't cooked Skippy - we just look after the park where the TV set was filmed. We have a fantastic site that was bequeathed to us by non-Aboriginal people - Camp Wollemi - which is a great story of our community being led by Mum Shirl calling out for spaces for health and wellbeing in the 1980s. And it's still our plans to better establish Camp Wollemi for health and wellbeing facilities and I'll talk about that in a moment.

But to share with you, that's the photo that was taken in the very hall that is 150-152 Elizabeth Street, the first ever known formal conference of Aboriginal people with one special guest being the Prime Minister, Mr. Lyon, of the day, notoriety has it that Mr. Lyon joined us because he wanted to get the signature of one of the participants because he could kick a bit of leather further than most people. And that was pastor Doug Nichols Everyone. Pastor Doug was such a deadly wizard with the AFL game or Marngrook as our old people called it, that the Prime Minister just wanted his signature and we're sure that that's why he went for no other reason than to meet Pastor Doug Nichols or Uncle Doug as he was to us then. It leaves us with a bit of a legacy that maybe through other means we can get people's attention. Certainly it worked that day.

In land rights a greatest example is to give you, that's what you've probably seen in the 1970s 80s and maybe it finishes still late at night on pay TV, that's Skippy. That's a great example of a land claim, a successful land claim, where success is different for us to you. Success usually means it's a quick easy win. For us it's a hard win, you've got to get knocked back get your refused land claim, then go to land Environment Court, appeal it, pay some lawyers, and then you win. And that unfortunately is about the goodness of the story because in land rights when you get a transfer of an asset, that's what they transfer you. Dilapidated buildings, overgrown, roads decaying, infrastructure falling apart. That's the transfer of government assets under New South Wales land rights and the reality that we deal with every day with that $148,000 dollars. Some of the other associated site next to Skippy looked like that when we got it in 2014. So they're the challenges that we have every day.

And here's the challenge, but also the beautiful challenge to show you, that's what Camp Wollemi looks like. Up top of it, surrounding it, is esteemed national parks Darkinjung, Darug national parks we apologize for the academic name Darug, but we'll fix that one up later, but acknowledging that at least two and a half thousand cultural sites are around our Camp Wollemi site. it's at the top end of the McDonald River, but it's also the place where the land Council and the AMS is undertaking feasibility to establish health and well-being facilities, as well as drug and alcohol facilities, to address our community's needs to overcome our health and well-being requirements.

Unfortunately I have to bore you, the land councils like local governments and Department of Health and others we have acts that requires to do things but to confirm we have a requirement to have a business plan. It's called a community land and business plan. Underneath that is the requirement to articulate all of the Activities, aims and objectives of the council and I can say to you today very proudly, that number one on our plan is health and well-being and addressing health and well-being. Then cultural education, tourism and the protection of culture and heritage is the next two priorities for our Council. In terms of the overarching areas that we cover, it's very important we acknowledge, we border on to our brothers and sisters in the land rights movement with Darkinjung land council in the north La Perouse in the south and southeast Deerubbin in the West Gandangarra in the southwest and we have to acknowledge that we touch upon Bathurst local land council Wonnarua local land council on that far northwestern region. We cover what's known as the rivers of the Georges Hawkesbury Lane Cove, Colo, Parramatta and Nepean. National parks including the Harbor Ku-Ring-Gai Chase, Garigal, Darug and Lane Cove an extensive amount of beaches particularly in the Northern Beaches areas from Manly right up to Palm. All of the harbor's islands. We've got some very significant cultural places, particularly in this case Aboriginal burial sites, repatriation sites, at Reef Beach, Towlers Bay, the Quarantine station Bujwa Ba and Maroota, centred in our boundaries, a number of tourist attractions to many the name really. And again that quotation of how many cultural heritage sites we have to look after in our boundary.

But in closing I want to thank the Centre for Aboriginal health for inviting me along here today, and also to share with you the final component of what I was asked to do and that was to talk about the local history of the area we stand upon. The Gammeraygal people. I recently had the privilege to come over and do a welcome to country and ironically I did it because Ann was sick and I have to acknowledge I can't do half the style, let alone the colour, that she brings or panache to or welcome but I can bore to death with detail.

And what I'd like to share with you is that history records the Gammeraigal people as the leaders of the resistance of Sydney, British penal colony known as Sydney today. For nearly twenty years are in fact just on a quarter of a century up till 1814 there was an area that was known as off-limits to the penal colony its Gammeraigal country. Its St Leonard's. It's the area you are standing upon today. There was such fear in the colony that when the first two allocated new land holders came to the area they run away very quickly and I wish to acknowledge in saying that but this is the country of esteemed leaders - in the matriarchal society Barangaroo whose forever misrepresented someone from the south with Barangaroo prestinct in the wrong area she is actually from this part of the country, shes a Gammeraigal women she was once a women who had a boyfriend or husband his name was Bennelong. It wasnt the reverse, she is very famous for snapping the spears of Bennelong. When he chose to party and join the fleet and returned to England, she snapped his spears that's what's recorded in the colonies diary letting him know it's time for you to go and by the way don't bother coming back to me. She's also recorded as showing up in full regalia, in traditional dress, when asked to attend the Governor's House for a ceremonial event. Bennelong wore a suit and she wore her body paint in her ochre, so I acknowledge the power and esteem of Barangaroo.

But also in the in the patriarchal community of the Gammerayigal was one of the most least known and recorded warriors of Australia's history. His name was Musquito. Musquito was so deadly at what he did and his resistance that he led that he was actually transported to Palawa country. He was sent to Tasmania because of his deeds in the first 20 years of contact here in the colony, they completely picked him up and shanghaied him to a completely different area. And I pause on that and acknowledge that that's a bit of colonial policy and procedure across the globe. And I know that because in Gadigal country Zulu chief David Sterman sits besides Cora Gooseberry, in the unmarked graves of the coloured section of the first penal colony burials or cemetery. David Sterman was sent to Australia because he to like Musquito scared the buggery out of the British colony so badly, for over a decade, that rather than knock him kill him or hanging and create a martyr of him, the fear that his legacy could inspire others, they kidnapped him and sent him to Australia. We had the South African government find out two years ago and attend our office with great sadness but also glee that they at least know where he landed now where he is. But the same for us with Musquito. Because only just last year I attended the National gathering that was the gathering at Uluru. And it was in that meeting that I was able to talk to the Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation CEO Mr. Michael Mansell, an esteemed Palawa man. To ask him, Unc, what do you know of a great Eora leader by the name of Musquito? And his simple response was Nev, I was waiting for someone to ask about him.

He was that good they sent him from us to Port Phillip and hung him. He’s recordered as inspiring many Palawa resistance leaders, leading Palawa resistance leaders, to show them how to resist the colony. So unfortunately acknowledging he's not been returned home as yet and we still don't exactly know where Musquito is, but you stand on the lands of one of the best resistance leaders of the colony had ever seen and dare I say maybe the world had seen. He was that good, they banished him. They wouldn't just kill him or take his life because that would have left us with an indelible knowledge of where he was and who he was. So they chose the other path, what's known across the globe is the best way to silence, kill off leaders, movements, is to remove them without any knowledge of where they've gone. But I'd say to you he inspires us today to keep the fight alive.

And when reading currently archaeological reports who are recovering more and more diaries of local settlers, the fear of what the Gammeraigal instilled in those first arrived, brings great glee to my spirit, to know we fought damn hard. And goes against a misnomer of history that says we didn't fight. And certainly I acknowledge as a child of 1974, the gunner that I was taught in education, whether it was the 11 primary schools and high schools that I attended from Balmain, Roselle right up to Smithfield in Cairns and beyond, there was always that constant arrogance that we never fought, there was no evidence of us fighting for our land and that somehow that was a factor in the land been taken from us without recompense, is not the Truth. It's now being rewritten, so hopefully Musquito will get his acknowledgement into the future.

But I mentioned this earlier the other esteem role of the Gammeraigal was leading ceremony. I put up the picture of the last full ceremony of the Eora, just on 10 years after the colony was established. And to acknowledge that two years after the colony was established the most famous bit of history or first bit of history, of good history between black fellas and non-black fellas in the country occurred that occurred over in Borabarigal land and that's the beach just beyond here just east of Manly sorry west of Manly where the ferrys arrive. The governor was speared he was speared because he kidnapped Arabanoo and in history we acknowledged that on the 25th of January 1788 the Governor wrote down the word Manly when describing what he's seen hanging on the beach on Kanaga or Borabarigal country over on the Manly beaches in northern beaches areas outing now to Garigal country. His report was they look like they were six to four, six four to six foot five people with no body fat, looking very intimidating, so he come up with the word manly. And that probably highlights the only good time we've heard a good word said about us, up until he got speared for kidnapping that very dude Arabanoo. And hopefully in history Arabanoo will have his history told and acknowledged. He was the unfortunate first kidnapping victim of the penal colony that was established in Sydney town, but acknowledging also Bennelong I mentioned him earlier he played a role in summoning the governor over to Manly Beach to make sure he got his reconciliation shown to him. And we say that openly, that only when we have true equity, where we get to punish people for what they've done to us appropriately, do you feel fair or equal. And that's the only time in history that we've had a chance to spear someone on the basis of what he did to us and more prouder of the fact that no one got shot after he speared him. I think in some case he showed some dignity in taking that spear and then not embarking, but of course unfortunately history shows less than 20 years later there was the declaration of martial war against the First Nations of Sydney Town or Eora Country.

So acknowledging the resistance of the Gammeraygal people, acknowledging their esteemed wisdom and the fact that they kept ceremony is everything to us. And in closing I'd like to acknowledge the land council's role in walking after not just Gammeraygal country but all the collective gal groups and re-emerging and trying to renew the culture to ensure that as Ann, I loved how she touched on it earlier, we replace the English colonial names of our country. So I'd acknowledge that we look after Tucoerah Deerubbin to Yandhai - and that is the names of the original rivers, be it the George's River - the Tucoerah, be it the Hastings, ah sorry slipping in my one There. The Hawkesbury - the Deerubbin or the Yandhai - the Nepean rivers. That we get that cultural history back. It's at the forefront of our council because we know you can't address health and wellbeing if you can't allow people to have identity to realise their identity, let alone to practice their identity. And the only way we're going to do that is allow our culture to be returned, without any Challenge, without any hysteria, sorry to the historians but we do call you the hysterical society. We need to remove that and allow us to be us and then our health and well-being will be returned, but also acknowledging the vital importance of our environment. In our culture, we can't be healthy unless our environment is and it's important to us that we rename the Cooks River to Wooli once more, so it doesn't bear the names of foreigners or issues or matters that has no relevance to us. It returns to what it always was, and always should be - a place of meaning and importance.

Our culture is the oldest human culture on Earth. Let's hope we can get over the tough seven generations we've experienced for two hundred and thirty-odd years and get it back again and just get on with it again, so again thanks to everyone thanks for the Centre for Aboriginal health particularly Gab for organising me to come along. I'd like to throw it open to some questions and answers to finish it off and say thank you again. I reckon we should probably offer the mob out there in the world wide web if they could, I don't know it can help me with that one if they had some questions. But I especially acknowledge all the Goories, Koories and Murris and others who are on the world wide web watching this very conscious of that.

I acknowledge that I may be the CEO of Metro Land Council but I'm also known in my communities the Honourable member for the greatest metropolis of Australia, that's Telegraph point if you don't know it. Telegraph point is the capital of Australia, the capital for Biripis, Thunguttis it is half way between Kempsey and Port Macquarie, it's the little township that I resided in after my family left Burnt Bridge Reserve and I acknowledge that as a Biripi and Thungutti, all of my people, you may know them as Purfleet in Taree, Burnt Bridge in Kempsey Bell Brook, South West Rocks, Rollands Plains in Port Macquarie, they’re my old people. I’d also like to acknowledge my father’s side - all the way to Limerick, I’m an O’Hurley. My father is Colin Robert O'Hurley. A famous family name from Ireland who played an extraordinary sport called Hurling which I will never play in my life.

Is there any questions from anyone out there? From anyone else, anyone in the room, no question is stupid or otherwise silly, don’t feel bad or confused. Anything is a question is good, it's about clarity and information. Maybe I have given you too much information to digest, get a hold of the presentation I’ve sent to you and really openly if you don’t happen to be in our land council boundary still feel free to contact us, we can put you in contact what ever local land council you’re in the backyard of whether it's Murrawari Land Council whether it's the Bodalla Lands Council or Tweed Heads Land Council. You name it, there is a land council in every backyard of the state of New South Wales. That can interconnect you with the community, the culture, the heritage or the needs of whatever respective community. And that's the beauty of having the land rights, the interconnectivity. Uncle Ray's talked about our connections within Redfern, in our boundary but I'd suggest that land rights gives us connections, get a tough call from Val Debeer at Tibooburra our maybe Deborah Stead at Balranald, maybe some of the Williams or Phillips family in Tweed Heads. Or on the other side Uncle Ozzie Cruz at Eden could say, I heard you said something Moran, or nephew. And thats the beauty of having interconnections. Don’t feel you can’t connect with us, there is an easy way to get ahold of us. So feel free to drop me an email or telephone or anything, I would love to help you out.

[Applause]

Did you have one question feel free?

Member from the audience: I was just wondering and unfortunately I can’t remember the name of it, there was a book published recently about the peoples around Sydney harbour, and I wondered if you know, if that’s a good one, a good starting point?

Nathan Moran, CEO Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council: Good question. Recent book on Aboriginal history of Sydney? Yes, so we have coastal Sydney. There's Reflections of Coastal Sydney by an author known as Paul Irish. Just acknowledge, Paul does work with our land council, worked with us on the Aboriginal history of the collective Wooli/Cooks river very recently. A great book, but I would say there are a number of books that are coming out about our history. Unfortunately Paul isn't an Aboriginal person, that's the only qualification we put on it. I would prefer to acknowledge people like Uncle Bruce Pascoe, for writing Dark Emu where it’s by us, for us and about us. But acknowledging Paul’s is a great book, takes it to a new level of research in the area of Sydney's knowledge of Aboriginal histories. Paul's been our the pinpoint camp sites that extended right up to the domain in 1880 where people were taken from the domain to be relocated La Perouse but also the history of continuum from 1788 right up to the rocks in seventeen or 1840 where people were wound up, rounded up, tied up and taken to Maloga unfortunately. Their histories now becoming more known and other then us sharing the history internally, that the original people of Sydney were all but taken from Sydney, to be part of an experiment to be the missionaries of Australia. It was a conjoint movement of the local police and the missionaries to take us from Sydney town, transport us to Victoria, to do some experiments called assimilation. Proud to say openly some of the children and grandchildren of those people who were taken returning to Sydney at La Perouse back to Soulpan Creek as well. But Val Attenburra is also one I will put youse all on to. Val Attenborough is one of the most extensive writers In Sydney history Val Attenborough, same as David Attenborough, Val awesome human being beautiful human being put together the place names of Sydney, Eora place names of Sydney and Val is an awesome person. Also helped us in telling the history of how stone assets being traded from the Macdonald valley, in our backyard all the way over to the Kimberleys and beyond and how the rock of Sydney's a very valued treasure and particularly granite, yeah stone assets.

Member from the audience: I do lots of walking in the Kuringai Chase national park and come across middens reasonably often on paths and things. Do the national parks and wild life service necessarily know about those because there not doing anything about them, kept in any way well, people just walk on them, should we be telling them that they're there or what is the story with that?

Nathan Moran, CEO Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council: First thing is they do know they are there, I want to say well done for getting out and having a look around acknowledging firstly about the name Kuringai it is a sad misnomer that the Garingai people of the Barrington Tops came down for ceremony in 1828, did a bit of fishing around the domain and then were misappropriated to Kuringai today, they’re the Garingai people from Barrington Tops Neighbours of the Worimi and Biripi sad misnomer I’m more happy that you are out seeing sites and particulary Terrimatigal which is the country that way. There are a number of sites and national parks, I touched on earlier majority are and they are recorded they are known, there just not given the, what would believe and perceive to be the appropriate respect, resource or commitment. It's a great tragedy to know that there's many sites that are exposed, but middens middens are everywhere. We pointed out continually that it's a great example of our ongoing connection and existence and places but middens are also sometimes used for burials and that can be very sensitive for us but majority of them are on the coastal beach fringe parts but they are a great preserver of bone and other settlements and calcium that's always at reputation we hope they're just the midden of refuse of Tucker. We do hope there not used for specific burial purposes but you don’t know unless you get the detail.

Hopefully one day our dream is to get all the national parks handed over to us and our unemployment problems will evaporate overnight. I can say that openly my grandfather told me that in about 1980. We would have no unemployment problems if they gave us the parks, the marines and fisheries back. That’s our job, we do have special skills that sometimes go into other areas but the dominant role is land maintenance, maintenance of our estates. It's unfortunate national parks are responsible for it, but we’re happy to get in and let us know if you could, send us an email if you think something is exposed or vulnerable or has been damaged cause we want to get onto the local office whatever respective office rangers are looking after it to find out, can we get some recourses or some fencing or otherwise signage at least.

I don’t know if you have 30 seconds for more questions I think I’m free. At least for 2018. It was awesome, thanks again. Look forward to 2019, working with you. Keep up the seminars, we need to have more seminar discussions, I love what Ann said over-coming disparity of our basic health.

I lost a cousin at 34 to a major heart attack and I’m very proud to say he broke all the stereotypes. He didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke. Was a first grade rugby league player. He lived his life off the ocean, he was an oyster farmer by trade, and no available explanation medically could be give us the example of why he died. And bless him, my cousin. It shattered me knowing my cousin, the best example of living that I could have in my own family, my own direct first cousin. He didn't eat takeaway food but acknowledging that when he first started as a kid, the role of salt and sugar played in our diets, And the more that there’s science research for health bodies to talk to us about the horrible evilness that is salt and sugar ,more information to our communities because I know recently there are studies on a link between salt and and bone density and I'm sure that's what’s been at the heart of my grandparents and great-grandparents disdain to talk about the rations as Ann talked about. We were forcibly fed salt and sugar, I think it's had a terrible outcome on our health, that's coming out through the genes of our people a generation or two later. But more information, more work together and hopefully one day we can all have a feed of passion fruit, nah that’s introduced, have a feed of barramundi if you’re in the north but for me I just want to get more flathead, brim, oysters, pippies, blue berries, you name it. Any type of local ingredient, we lived off it as kids, even honeysuckle, that's enough to live for a day as a child, a bit of water, batu thats all you need. Unfortunately we have gone away from that, but if we can promote how good living is and put a picture up of a black fella - maybe use the Thomas Dick collection of photos of my old people in 1920 - we can show you what healthy looks like.

It was here in 1788, it was here in 1790, and if we can get back to that we’re all going to be better. Thanks. ​​

Page Updated: Monday 30 September 2019
Contact page owner: Centre for Aboriginal Health