IS NOTH­ING SA­CRED?

Abo­rig­i­nal el­ders fight to stop de­vel­op­ers build­ing on their an­ces­tors' graves

The Queensland Times - - FRONT PAGE - Brian Ben­nion brian. ben­nion@ qt. com. au

A PRO­POSED residentia­l de­vel­op­ment on the Dee­bing Creek Mis­sion site has an­gered lo­cal Abo­rig­i­nal fam­i­lies who say houses and chil­dren’s play ar­eas will be built over sa­cred burial sites.

Ma­jor prop­erty group Aus­tra­land lodged plans with Ip­swich City Coun­cil in Novem­ber for close to 600 homes on the her­itage listed site.

The site be­gan as a mis­sion in 1887 and op­er­ated un­til 1915 when the mis­sion was re­lo­cated to Purga. It was gazetted for Abo­rig­i­nal pur­poses from 1892 to 1948 and then used for graz­ing where it was trans­ferred into pri­vate own­er­ship.

An in­tact brick well, his­toric plant­ings and a ceme­tery are noted in the Queens­land Her­itage Register list­ing of the site.

Cur­rent land owner Daryll Kelly lodged a pro­posal for a residentia­l de­vel­op­ment un­der Dee­bing De­vel­op­ments in 2008 which re­ceived pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval from coun­cil for fur­ther de­tailed in­ves­ti­ga­tions and cul­tural as­sess­ment and has not pro­gressed.

The land has since been recog­nised as a pri­or­ity area for fu­ture residentia­l de­vel­op­ment by the State Gov­ern­ment un­der the Ri­p­ley Val­ley De­vel­op­ment Scheme and is sur­rounded by residentia­l es­tates in­clud­ing Stock­land’s Sov­er­eign Pocket and the re­cently ap­proved Par­adise Wa­ters and other large lot es­tates along Grampian Drive also ap­proved for de­vel­op­ment.

Aus­tra­land could not be con­tacted for com­ment yesterday but it is un­der­stood the de­vel­op­ment site is un­der­go­ing sur­veys and has been re­ferred to the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Her­itage Pro­tec­tions and the Depart­ment of Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der Part­ner­ships for fur­ther as­sess­ment.

A group of 20 Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple rep­re­sent­ing the Yug­gera, Ugara­pul and Waka Waka peo­ple, who said their an­ces­tors were buried on the site, gath­ered at the for­mer mis­sion this week to protest the pro­posal.

They said author­i­ties had con­fused the mis­sion’s ceme­tery with the site where the head­stone of the mis­sion’s teacher was erected in the 1890s.

Roberta Graham said the author­i­ties did not con­sult all the tra­di­tional own­ers when they sold the land and on the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment plans.

“It is a very sig­nif­i­cant site,” Mrs Graham said.

“It’s a spir­i­tual site to us. This is our iden­tity here. My great- great- great grand­fa­ther is buried here. There’s a lot of history. We want to pre­serve it.”

The State Gov­ern­ment has iden­ti­fied the Jagera Daran Pty Ltd as the nom­i­nated cul­tural her­itage body for the area and con­sul­ta­tion has been on­go­ing with that group.

How­ever Wade Thompson said the Jagera peo­ple were not con­sid­er­ing the cus­toms of other tribes who were at the mis­sion.

“One of our cus­toms is never to have this ground touched or des­e­crated in any way,” Mr Thompson said. “The peo­ple that are mak­ing the de­ci­sions here don’t un­der­stand our cus­toms.”

It’s a spir­i­tual site to us. This is our iden­tity here. My great- great- great grand­fa­ther is buried here

PHOTO: DAVID NIELSEN

PHOTOS DAVID NIELSEN Abo­rig­i­nal el­ders and de­scen­dants of the Dee­bing Creek Mis­sion ( from left) Teddy Collins, Wade Thompson, Roberta Graham and Tom Wilmott speak out on the pro­posed de­vel­op­ment ( inset) show­ing the dis­puted ceme­tery site.

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