HISTORY TALK: Bundjalung elder Bertha Kapeen.
HISTORY TALK: Bundjalung elder Bertha Kapeen.

The inside story on Indigenous life

BUNDJALUNG elder Aunty Bertha Kapeen will be the next guest at the Bangalow Museum's Inside Story series.

Hosted by former ABC Radio host Mick O'Regan, Aunty Bertha will speak on the topic "Has Anything Really Changed?"

Growing up on Cabbage Tree Island in an era of racial segregation, Bertha Kapeen has been chair of the Bundjalung Elders Council for over 20 years and a passionate advocate for Indigenous education.

"I don't see lot of changes," she said. "We moved from the mission into towns, but I think we (Aboriginal people) are treated virtually the same as those days... Education has not changed much."

Bertha recalls after the 1967 referendum that her family were granted an exemption certificate (known as a "Dog Licence") which meant they were "now qualified as white people" and granted permission to live next to white people.

"Until 1967, when I was 31, I was seen as nothing in Australia; no-one respected us," Bertha said.

"The idea was to keep us together and not contaminate white people. We had limitations on where we could travel to. We couldn't leave the island or have visitors without asking the manager's permission. It's important for people to know how we lived on those places. What happened to us was kept secret. Writing about it is the only way for the rest of Australia to know."

Bertha has written two books including her autobiography Werlu Wana that will be available on the day.

Inside Story will be held at the Bangalow Historical Society Tea Room on Sunday, October 14, from 1pm.

A two-course lunch, including a good old-fashioned roast and apple pie will be included with the $30 ticket.

Bookings can be made by phoning 6687 2183.


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