Featured / News / Community / 2nd June 2022
Be brave. Make change.
It was only eight years ago when the local Aboriginal community were flatly informed they would not be able to march across the Mary Jane Cain Bridge to commemorate Sorry Day. In spite of the warning, more than 300 people crossed the Castlereagh River on 26 May 2014...and they have turned up every year since.
This year was no different, with hundreds of community members and students from all three schools turning out to make the walk to the Coonabarabran Town Hall on Thursday, 26 May.
On behalf of the Coonabarabran Local Aboriginal Land Council, chairperson, Naomi Stanton thanked the sub- committee for ensuring the day was a success.
“We are now proud to hand over the role to the sub-committee to take on these events in the future,” Mrs Stanton said.
“The event continually grows over the years, it’s great to see the participation from such a small community.
“We have come so far since marching on one side of the Mary Jane Cain Bridge to now proudly marching on both sides.”
Mrs Stanton said it made a difference when everyone came together to close the gap.
“We hope to see more and more people participate in the years to come.”
Not just a tokenistic day
This year’s guest speaker, Warrumbungle Shire councillor and proud Aboriginal man, Kodi Brady said it was great to see so many people turn out to pay tribute, reflect, remember and to heal together on Sorry Day in order to ensure the future was a better place than the past.
However, Cr Brady put a challenge out to the audience to enact real, lasting change and not allow Sorry Day to become another tokenistic day.
“My view is one not of a tick box view that we see over and over from governments, organisations and individuals,” he said.
“Where you attend significant days like today and NAIDOC Week events, for example, and think that is all you need to do to heal the scars of this land.
“Good intentions need to be turned into words and then words turned into actions.
“Be it in the classrooms or the school yard, the Council, a small business or a large organisation.”
Cr Brady said the answer could be found by simply accepting the truth.
“By understanding the impact and inter-generational trauma that government policies and procedures have had on our people and the effects that are still being carried in the people we live with, work with and share a community with today.
“Implement a Reconciliation Action Plan or an Indigenous strategy, or even knowing and acknowledging the land you are on when you visit places for work or play.
“Or maybe providing an inclusive environment for all in your organisation - a culturally safe place.”
More work to be done
While Cr Brady believes that Australia had come a long way to righting the wrongs of the past, he said there was a much further distance to travel together for healing.
“If you change nothing, nothing changes, so why keep doing the same old thing for decades upon decades and expecting positive results and great outcomes?
“The colonial Australian culture is built on institutionalised practices - our governments, our health system, our education system, our welfare system.
“We know, as the oldest living culture in the world, these practices don’t work for our people. Or, as a matter of fact, so many other people.
“Our systems are a box and most people just don’t fit in the box.”
Cr Brady said grassroots actions from each and everyone of us were the key to the future.
“Let’s walk away today and make positive actions to make this country a better place for all people.”