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Issue #1645      July, 2, 2014

Rally calls for support

A rally was held at Redfern’s Tent Embassy at NSW The Block last month in a bid to raise further public opposition to development plans, which opponents say prioritise commercial interests over affordable Aboriginal housing.

The embassy organisers. (Photo: Jack Fisher)

Attended by around 100 people, the rally was opened with a performance from musician Kutcha Edwards, who travelled from Victoria for the event.

He was followed by speakers Kaye Bellear, Jenny Munro and Lyall Munro, who all talked about the need to continue to put pressure on the Aboriginal Housing Company (AHC), which owns the land, to respond to the needs of the community.

Local residents and entertainers were then invited to take to the stage and share their views. Ms Munro said that opposition to the plans was building and that it was more important than ever to keep visibility of the issue in the media and broader community.

“We have watched how such a beautiful vision and dream for our people has been reduced to this,” she said. “We are here still fighting for black homes to be built on black land and we are inviting all Australians to come out and support us. We should be billionaires on our land, not beggars.”

Protesters also promised local residents that they would do their best to put a stop to commercial, development, which they believe is due to begin within weeks.

“We will do whatever it takes to make sure that the only soil that gets turned on this land is for Aboriginal housing,” Ms Munro said. In his address, Mr Munro said he was heartened by the fact that the issue was receiving widespread interest, with the tent embassy recently enjoying visits from activist Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, arts identity Rhoda Roberts and journalist Jeff McMullen, as well as members of the wider Sydney community.

Important issue

St Clair resident Shanae Day and her mother Keren, who heard about the rally on social media, travelled from western Sydney to show their support. It was the first time Ms Day had attended a rally and said it showed just how important this issue was to her and other young people.

“I think our rights are extremely important and I just want to do what I can to support the issue,” she said. “Out of respect to my great grandmother, who was removed from her family, I maintain a strong interest in justice and in doing what’s right.”

Organisers say the tent embassy – which has more than tripled in size since it was established on Sorry Day in May – could maintain its presence for as long as three years until the AHC’s development application for the land expires, however, they hope a resolution is reached before then.

Representatives of the AHC have consistently maintained the development includes sufficient affordable housing.

Koori Mail

Next article – Compo system’s injustice

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