THE LONG JOUR­NEY TO REC­ON­CIL­I­A­TION

Recog­nis­ing 50 years since the 1967 ref­er­en­dum

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE -

CER­E­MONIES are hap­pen­ing across the coun­try in hon­our of the 1967 ref­er­en­dum which recog­nised the First Aus­tralians in the cen­sus for the first time along with a con­sti­tu­tional role in the Com­mon­wealth.

Fifty years on from that his­toric vote, in which more than 90% of Aus­tralians voted yes, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Wakka Wakka peo­ple took part in a wel­come to coun­try cer­e­mony at Ban Ban Springs.

Una Appo was one of those on hand to give a heart­felt speech on what it means to her and her fam­ily to be back in her his­tor­i­cal home.

“I made the right de­ci­sion to come back home to Gayn­dah, the de­ci­sion was more about get­ting my chil­dren back home and on the coun­try,’’ she said.

“It’s the best de­ci­sion I’ve ever made and I am 47 years old and have raised seven chil­dren.”

Be­ing home and part of the Wakka Wakka and North Bur­nett com­mu­nity has had a huge flow-on ef­fect for Ms Appo and her fam­ily.

“Mak­ing that move has helped my chil­dren learn more about the cul­ture and to be more in­volved with the com­mu­nity,” Ms Appo said.

“They’ve just ad­vanced all the way through, their school­ing has picked up and their so­cial de­vel­op­ment has picked up, it’s an en­vi­ron­ment in Gayn­dah that excels with indige­nous chil­dren and the adults too.”

Selina Hill is an­other of the Wakka Wakka peo­ple from the North Bur­nett who spoke of the com­mu­nity at the 50th An­niver­sary Day.

“When coun­cil rang me and asked to do the wel­come to coun­try speech I thought about the elders but then I thought I’d give it a crack,” Ms Hill said.

“As a proud Wakka Wakka woman I know that I’m not just here on be­half of my fam­ily but also on be­half of all the Wakka Wakka fam­i­lies.”

Ms Hill spoke about what the ref­er­en­dum means to her.

“We had our hu­man and civil rights recog­nised and the vote was about right­ing the wrongs.

“A lot of those wrongs and injustices we still haven’t stepped for­ward from, we might have stepped out of the dark chap­ters of his­tory into the light but we still have a long way to go.

“The only way we can do this is as a shared com­mu­nity with vi­sion which will take us for­ward.”

Ms Hill said that ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics, Queens­land’s indige­nous pop­u­la­tion in 1966 was 19,000.

❝ The only way we can do this is as a shared com­mu­nity with vi­sion which will take us for­ward.

— Selina Hill

PHOTO: ADAM MCCLEERY

MOV­ING FOR­WARD: Harry Hill, Loretta Chap­man and Mar­garet Mi Mi cut the 50th an­niver­sary cake at the Ban Ban Springs cer­e­mony.

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