A sorry day for Aboriginal people

A sorry day for Aboriginal people

May 26 has been known as Sorry Day since the year 2000 when we all marched over bridges and signed Sorry Books acknowledging our Black History and remembering the Aboriginal people, their dispossession and suffering. Thousands walked all over the country around 1700 people in Lismore and most signed the Sorry Books now sitting in some archive in Canberra. It was virtually an Aboriginal Anzac Day.

We all know the Prime Minister has refused to say that dreaded word sorry, in spite of overwhelming response from the people. Now, however, on the 40th anniversary of the referendum to include our Indigenous peoples in the national census and subsequently to allow them the vote in their own country of some 40,000 plus years of residency, someone has announced the renaming of May 26 as Thanksgiving Day.

The idea of giving thanks for this wonderful country and our good fortune to be living here may be quite inspiring BUT superimposing it on Sorry Day is heinous. We already expect the Aboriginal people to accept Australia Day, which marks the day of Captain Cooks landing and taking possession of Australia, Terra Nullius (empty country), as a day of celebration.

They have only recently taken a stand on that as Invasion Day and who can blame them? Even so, they simply celebrate their survival rather than protests and anger.

It is even more bizarre that the terminology is so American. Why dont we just celebrate the fourth of July, drag out the stars and stripes and be done with it!

Here is another thought. Why dont we rename Anzac Day as No More War, Freedom from Guns or Peace Forever Day and celebrate accordingly.

The Lismore People for Reconciliation intend to continue Sorry Day and to acknowledge and mourn our history. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the referendum in May (the first time the whole country stood up for Aboriginal people), we are preparing a program, including a march through town. The Voices Together Reconciliation Choir is anxious to reform and get in voice for the big day and we need voices, old and new, of all ages, sizes, colours and creeds. Reconciliation has not yet been achieved and our history has not been healed. Lets move on, some people say a bit like telling someone whose legs have been blown off by a land mine to learn to tap dance !

I personally led the mob over the Lismore bridges in the millennial year, and I am hoping we can do it again and I call, in the name of our beloved departed Bundjalung Elder, Auntie Fay, (lest we forget) that we stand up and be counted. To join the choir group ring me on 6624 1926 or email judithalight@gmail.com. To join the reconciliation group, phone Rob Garbutt on 6625 1485 or email rgarbutt@scu.edu.au (Watch for us at the CarBoot Market gates this Sunday.)

Judith Light


No more stones for Coraki

Enough stones have been thrown at Coraki. The media has shown an unbalanced view of our village and sensationalism has caused as much distress for some Coraki residents as the offences committed by a small group of misguided kids, not hardened criminals who should be locked away.

I do not deny the concerns of victims of crime, but question the reaction.

At a meeting on March 7, the Coraki Crime Prevention Committee, an untiring group of four, were joined by quite a number of concerned residents to address the anti-social problems that Coraki is experiencing. Such behaviour is not unique to Coraki, but we are lucky that our dedicated committee has had a great deal of success implementing programs to help overcomethe problems often caused by boredom and misdirection.

The committee has already constructed a BMX track, and cricket nets are close to completion, as well as having held a community day when police, mounted police, SES, kids and community had a great time getting to know each other through sport and other activities.

The Neighbourhood Centre runs a highly successful youth group on Wednesday afternoons involving the kids in touch football as well as craft activities. Taking part in Lismores Lantern Parade is in the planning stage.

At the March 7 meeting more plans were discussed for further activities and events. But the evening wasnt just about event planning. We listened to mothers, fathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours and friends of all shades of colour, who agreed that our kids need to develop their self-esteem and respect for themselves, whichwill in turn flow onto the community in which they live.

Communication is also a priority. In such a small town it should not be difficult to say hello to each other, to break the divide, the them and us syndrome, which is also at the root of the problem.

Judging kids as criminals is a desperate reaction and not a positive way of addressing the situation. Source the cause for their anti-social behaviour.

NB: A message to Corakis residents support the Coraki Crime Prevention Committee by offering your assistance with their projects for a positive outcome for our village.

Narelle Jarvis


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