THE LONG JOURNEY TO RECONCILIATION
Recognising 50 years since the 1967 referendum
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
MOVING FORWARD: Harry Hill, Loretta Chapman and Margaret Mi Mi cut the 50th anniversary cake at the Ban Ban Springs ceremony.