GYMPIE ELDER: We do not get the same justice
COLD and wet weather did not deter Gympie region residents from commemorating NAIDOC Week at a special flag raising ceremony in Nelsen Reserve this morning.
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Aboriginal elder Aunty Lillian, emerging elder Russell Bennett, Reverend Dave Thomas and Gympie Regional councillor Dolly Jensen spoke about this year’s theme, “Always was, always will be” and the importance of acknowledgment, reconciliation and education.
Councillors Jess Milne, Dan Stewart and Warren Polley were also at the event to show support, along with several Gympie police officers.
“I’ve been doing this for 13 or 14 years now, celebrating NAIDOC,” Aunty Lillian said.
“It’s about sharing and celebrating our history, our culture, with the wider community.
“Just to break down all the barriers so everybody can live together and have a celebration without any hassles.
“It’s all about acknowledgment to the past.”
NAIDOC Week was officially delayed from July until November due to COVID-19, and the rest of the events, such as the annual dinner dance, have been postponed until then.
Aunty Lillian said everybody was welcome to attend and more information would be available soon.
Aunty Lillian also weighed in on the recent Black Lives Matter protests held across Australia.
“Black lives do matter,” she said.
“People got to understand that Aboriginal people have been protesting and nobody’s been listening.
“The government hasn’t been listening.”
She said it was frustrating for a lot of families, and said she firmly believed there were “two sets of laws” in Australia.
“Take up north where somebody gets taken to jail for a fine, or not paying a fine or something like that,” she said.
“That’s not right; Aboriginal people do not get that white privilege.
“People are getting the wrong idea about what Aboriginal people are protesting about; we’re protesting about our people, the First Nations people.
“Because there was well over 400 deaths in custody, and they’re chasing kids, kids were impaled on fences, people would run over them for fun, for a joy ride, and a judge apparently reckoned that they were just hooning around.
“So we do not get the same justice.”
Aunty Lillian said the situation was upsetting and frustrating.
“Our Aboriginal people are still living in tin shacks and that in the bush, without running water, food’s not going out to them,” she said.
“They say Aboriginal people get a lot of money; we don’t get that money and it doesn’t get down to the ground to those traditional owners who are living on their own country.
“To me, it’s about time that the non-indigenous people of Australia should acknowledge the past injustice that was done to the First Nations people since arrival.
“It’s long overdue.”