GOMEROI TRADITIONAL CUSTODIANS PRESS RELEASE
The Gomeroi Traditional Custodians and their supporters raised over $2000 in order to return Whitehaven Maules Creeks $1500 donation to peoples day NAIDOC Week citing refusal to accept unethical funding after a year long struggle and disrespect shown to Elders and community by the company.
NAIDOC Week celebrations are held around the country each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year’s NAIDOC theme honours all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have fought in defence of country. This honour is from our warriors in the Frontier Wars to our warriors who have served with honour and pride in Australia’s military conflicts and engagements across the globe.
There has been a lot of blood shed in this region and on the Maules Creek site and there is no way that we can stand by and allow Whitehaven who have disrespected our ancestors and our Elders and community and continue to deny our rights to access the Leard State forest and our families gravesites for ceremony, promote themselves on our NAIDOC Week.
Uncle Dick Talbott said “How can we accept money from a company like Whitehaven for a celebration and commemoration of our ancestors’ sacrifices under these circumstances and the pain they have inflicted on our people and Elders. We would have had our families and children have to boycott a NAIDOC week celebration which is one of the very few occasions when we gather in celebration not Sorry Business (funerals). It’s just not right.”
With the support of the Friends of the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians we were able to raise enough money to send back Whitehaven’s money and tell them that their banner will not be displayed at our children’s and peoples day on Sunday. This is our day not Whitehaven’s and we will not have them tarnish NAIDOC Week and our day for community.
It is 12 months today since we walked off Whitehaven to try and have our cultural and heritage protected properly and for our concerns to be heard. Whitehaven’s continued denial of allowing access to the Maules Creek site and Leard State Forest for the purposes of undertaking ceremony at our ancestral gravesites and sacred ceremonial places is hurtful and shameful. They (Whitehaven) are now citing workplace health and safety issues to deny our rights to access site …we fear it’s just bully boy tactics using constructive blockages to stop us from undertaking a ceremony important to us. We will not stop fighting for our rights and for our ceremony.
Today on the eve of our NAIDOC Week – a week in which all communities throughout Australia are commemorating our peoples sacrifices and celebrating what’s good in our
community and the improved relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community is marred by this mining company- today instead of respect we have had to resort to lodging a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission for discrimination on the basis of denial of religious practices.
We would have wheelbarrowed the money back to them in five cent pieces if we needed to. No matter what we will continue our struggle for our rights and for the memories of our loved ones. We will continue to challenge Whitehaven’s behaviour and their disrespect and fight for the protection of our culture and heritage. We are back at the Boggabri Park across the road from Whitehaven at 10am today to deliver to Whitehaven a message
Media liaison person
Dolly Talbott mobile- 0413131983
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