House debates

Thursday, 28 August 2014


Lingiari Electorate

4:50 pm

Photo of Warren SnowdonWarren Snowdon (Lingiari, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for External Territories) Share this | | Hansard source

On Friday, 22 August, along with Senator Nova Peris, I was privileged to attend the 48th anniversary of the walk-off by Aboriginal stockmen and their families from Wave Hill Station in the north-west of the Northern Territory. This walk-off, as you Madam Speaker would know, was led by the charismatic Vincent Lingiari. This action and the subsequent nine-year long strike eventually, as a result of recognition by Gough Whitlam when he handed back the sand to Vincent in that dramatic photograph of Courier legend Mervyn Bishop, who recorded this fine moment, led to the promulgation of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

The stockmen who were in this walk-off were predominantly Gurindji but included men of the Mudburra, Walpiri, Ngaringman and Bilinara language groups.    I have attended most of these celebrations that the Gurindji refer to as Gurindji Freedom Day over the last two decades. The highlights last week included: a visit to Vincent's grave at Kalkaringi Cemetery; traditional dancing by Gurindji women and girls; a Karungkarni art exhibition, including children's art; woodcarving exhibitions, led by the redoubtable Jimmy Wave Hill Nawanja; speeches, including a great one by elder Peanut Bandiari, who is a veteran himself of the walk-off; footy, softball and basketball competitions; and a battle of the bands. It was a really good weekend.

A superb community barbecue was held at Policeman's Hole on the banks of the Victoria River, on an old camp site of the walk-off participants to Vincent's traditional lands at Dagaragu, otherwise known as Wattie Creek. The meat was generously supplied by the Kalkaringi Meatworks and cooked by Gurindji rangers.

It was a great weekend, well organised by an all-Gurindji committee led by Robert Roy and Roz Frith. Congratulations and thank you to all those concerned.

Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the 1975 hand-back by Gough Whitlam to Vincent, and in 2016 we will see the 50th anniversary of that dramatic walk-off. It is sure to be a big celebration, not only for Gurindji and other Indigenous peoples but for all right-minded Australians. I am so pleased that I was able to be there.

I would also like to congratulate the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation in Tennant Creek for achieving its 30th year of operation. Anyinginyi is a multidisciplinary organisation which provides primary health care services to the people of Tennant Creek and the surrounding Barkly region. It consists of six different sections, which allows it to have an holistic approach to health, ensuring that clients' physical and emotional health and wellbeing are given the utmost priority.

Anyinginyi was created in 1984. Its constitution then and now is focused on the central objective through various community based strategies and programs to relieve the poverty, sickness, helplessness, serious social and economic disadvantage and social distress that affects the Aboriginal population. The health service delivery area stretches north of Tennant Creek to Elliott, across to the east almost to the Queensland border and south to Ali Curung, an area of almost 150,000 square kilometres

It is a very important organisation. Its mission is to provide high-quality holistic primary healthcare services, featuring prevention and treatment, in the Barkly region in a culturally responsible way. I want to commend them for their wonderful and fine work. And I want to congratulate my mate, Rossie Williams, who is chair of the board; Trevor Sanders, who is the CEO, and who has done a magnificent job; and the management and staff both past and present. I hope that you will all continue to be rewarded for your work, making Anyinginyi an established and vibrant organisation—the pride of Tennant Creek and the Barkly.

Lastly, I want congratulate and recognise Shepherdson College on the island of Galiwinku in north-east Arnhem Land, which this year celebrates the 40th anniversary of the provision of bilingual education at Galiwinku. I will feature some of those fine people—those educators—who are behind this. I want to congratulate those people—the people and the thousands like them—who deliver high-quality education, health and other services, day in and day out, year in and year out: they are our unsung heroes. Their contribution to the wellbeing of Australian children, their families and Australian society deserves our greatest acknowledgement and praise.

Galiwinku is a wonderful place, the home of singers like Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu; the founding member of Warumpi band, who is deceased, so I cannot use his name—I am sorry about that; and the Chooky dancers—a wonderful outfit!

I wish the Galiwinku community, the staff and students of Shepherdson and everyone joining in the celebrations all the best for their celebrations tomorrow.

House adjourned at 16:55