Kyabram Free Press

Vince on a mission to remember

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had followed First Nations people in the area.

But it’s a stigma Vince wants to eliminate.

‘‘We want people to understand the history — some families have grown up there and we want the (younger) indigenous folk there to see that there is a positive thing that happened (on The Flats),’’ he said.

Today, all that remains of the camp is a cement slab — the rest is memory.

Now 78 years old, Vince wants Deniliquin to remember those early days and how they affected

First Nations people and to revitalise reconcilia­tion efforts.

He is working with Edward River Council and First Nations families who lived at The Flats to commemorat­e that time on the weekend of September 25-26.

A service at the Salvation Army Church will be held on Sunday morning and attendees of Saturday’s festivitie­s are invited to join.

The reunion will also include the installati­on of a plaque to acknowledg­e the ‘‘vibrant community’’ he grew up in, which will be embedded on a stone contribute­d by council and memorialis­ed in the park.

It will brandish the names of families who worked with the Salvation Army during the 1950s, but Vince also wants to recognise the contributi­ons of other families who he understand­s lived along the river not far from The Flats.

‘‘The main thing I want to focus on is the positive part of what has happened and where the possibilit­ies lie for the future of that place.’’

An unveiling and a big event is planned for the reunion and all members of the families that resided at The Flats will be invited to pass on their stories to younger generation­s and the Deniliquin community at a supper.

Vince, who loves to play music, is organising a ‘‘group of musos’’ from Melbourne and Geelong to visit and play at the event.

Vince credits ‘‘the good times and the bad times’’ at The Flats with directing his life’s journey.

‘‘It helped influence my life and put me on a good track, and since then I’ve been busier than a tin full of worms,’’ he said.

Vince attended high school for a year and showed a lot of promise, but decided to get into the workforce to help his parents.

He became a mechanic and worked in the motor industry for a while, moving from Deniliquin to live with the Sanders family in Kyabram, to whom he is ever grateful for getting his life on track. He met married and raised two children with his wife, Enid (Parkinson) a Stanhope local.

Vince’s first job in Kyabram was truck driving for Harry Robinson before taking on a job with Brewster and Maddern, Kyabram’s Holden dealers at the time.

‘‘Bill (Brewster) and Mick (Maddern) were great bosses, I had a lot of respect for them,’’ Vince recalled.

Vince also got play football with Lancaster, Stanhope and Girgarre during his days in the area.

‘‘I made a lot of friends when I was in Kyabram and I still make contact with many of them today,’’ Vince said.

Following a move to Geelong — where he still lives — in1979 Vince and Enid decided to become ‘cottage parents’ and looked after eight children in a care home over four years.

It inspired Vince to go back to study, completing a social welfare course in Melbourne and then working with the Department of Human Services.

After seven years with the government, he became disillusio­ned when he could not affect the change he had hoped for.

He applied for a secondment and worked with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress to build a cultural and education centre near Geelong.

Narana is a 3.2 ha piece of land that invites First Nations and non-indigenous people to ‘‘heal and walk together’’ in an effort to reconcile wounds from the past — a mission Vince has carried through his life.

While he’s no longer working, Vince said that does not stop him from contributi­ng to making the future better for First Nations people, their culture and the whole of Australia.

‘‘I’m retired now, but I think that just means I’ve taken up a different portfolio,’’ he said.

 ??  ?? Vince Ross in his Salvation Army Corps band uniform.
Vince Ross aged 8 with his older brother, John.
Vince Ross in his Salvation Army Corps band uniform. Vince Ross aged 8 with his older brother, John.
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