Myall Creek Memorial – “we are growing and maturing as a nation”

Myall Creek Memorial – “we are growing and maturing as a nation”

“they weren’t just fighting for their so-called country, they were fighting for social and political change back home…”

In this ANZAC centenary year, Professor John Maynard, guest speaker at the annual Myall Creek gathering on Sunday 7 June, explores the role of our Black Diggers… from Anzac Cove to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Each year upwards of 400 people from across the country gather on the June long weekend to commemorate the unprovoked massacre of twenty-eight Wirrayaraay women, children and old men by a group of stockmen on Myall Creek Station in 1838.

The Myall Creek Memorial on the Bingara-Delungra Road near Inverell, was erected in June 2000 by a group of Aboriginal and non-aboriginal people working together in an act of reconciliation.

In 2008 the massacre site and Memorial received national recognition when it was included on the National Heritage Register. In announcing its inclusion Mr Peter Garrett, then federal Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, said the Memorial was “a sign of how we continue to grow and mature as a nation. That we come to terms with our past, acknowledge it, identify it and then move forward together, sharing the future.” The Memorial also received NSW state heritage listing in 2010.

Our guest speaker this year will be Professor John Maynard, a Worimi man, historian and head of the Wollotuka Institute at the University of Newcastle. In this ANZAC Centenary year, under a national Australia Research Council grant, John is leading a project, Serving Our Country, that explores the role of Aboriginal people with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps through to military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq today. John says of the Aboriginal soldiers who went off to WWI, “they weren’t just fighting for their so-called country, they were fighting for social and political change back home. …However, a lot of those returned servicemen became quickly disillusioned and some, highly politicised.”

John will explore the role of the Black Diggers within the broader context of Aboriginal people’s struggle for recognition and self-determination.

Events over the weekend

We will also be congratulating the winners of the 7th annual Thoughts and Dreams – Student Art, Writing and Song Competition. Sponsored by the ‘Friends of Myall Creek’ National Committee and Sydney Friends of Myall Creek, the competition encourages students from Kindergarten through to Year 12 across north-west NSW, to address and express different concepts of Reconciliation. This year’s theme for theentries is ‘Your Aboriginal Idol… Who is the most inspiring Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person to you and why? ’. An exhibition of the finalists will be displayed.

This year’s program will begin with morning tea available from 9.30am at the Myall Creek hall. At 9.45am we will convene a short AGM for election of committee members and consider a slight amendment to our constitution that would permit us to apply for ‘Deductible Gift Recipient’ status towards the planned education and cultural centre. Following the AGM we will proceed to the memorial at 10.30 am for the ceremony, returning to the hall around midday.

We are delighted to announce a special fundraising concert by Roger Knox, the ‘Koori King of Country’ and his band, will entertain us with songs that trace the history of Aboriginal country music. This includes one of Roger’ own songs that tells the story of Myall Creek.

The annual memorial service is open to everyone. Those intending to participate are invited to gather at the Myall Creek Hall by 9.30am Sunday 7 June for morning tea. A great local CWA lunch will be available after the ceremony for a small charge.

For more information contact Ivan Roberts 0475 838 144 or iroberts2505@yahoo.com.au, Graeme Cordiner (02) 9817 0288, John Brown 0417 209 076 or Lyall Munro (02) 67

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