“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.”
No doubt the above proverb is seen as a guide for how to live one’s life in the heart of many Aboriginal people. In the past week I have taken this saying quite literally. I have just returned from the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Freedom Ride, which was headed by the late Uncle Charlie Perkins.
During my journey, with a group students and staff from our uni and many of the original Freedom Riders, we passed through Dubbo, Coonamble, Walgett, Collarenebri, Moree, Bowraville and Kempsey to not only celebrate the achievements of the Freedom Ride but also to reflect on what has changed, what hasn’t and what still needs to be done in these communities to shorten the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
I had the opportunity to sit and talk with local members of the community; to observe, to learn, to grow, and to love. I learnt about the positive and negative changes they had experienced and engaged in discussions about what we can do, as young university students, to help. I found that many still face discrimination in these communities based on their race in the present day such as life long bans to children as young as age 7 in the Moree Swimming Pool to the low standard living conditions on the Ginghi Mission, which has just 12 houses for up to 90 people. I learnt about the low rate of employment opportunities in Dubbo and Walgett, and the little amount of youth services available to the people in Bowraville and Kempsey. All of these things have one main common factor; they are all predominately Aboriginal communities.
I strongly encourage you to take a look at the articles from pg 12 of this issue of Honi for more details and contact me if you want to get involved in creating change in our country as we pass through before returning home.