Australia Day ceremony minus Aboriginal voice

ORANGE’S Australia Day ceremony went ahead on Sunday without one important element - the welcome to country by a member of the Aboriginal community.

Head of the Australia Day committee Helen Corby said she was disappointed no one represented the Aboriginal community despite the committee being ready to pay the required $200 fee that goes towards Aboriginal youth services.

“In the last few years it has been so interesting to hear about the Aboriginal history of our area during our welcome to country and of course it was special because Adam Goodes was named as Australian of the Year,” she said.

“We are not sure why no one could come but fortunately councillor Reg Kidd was able to step in and do the acknowledgement to country.”

“Our committee has always seen this as a very important part of Australia Day in the park.”

GALLERY: ORANGE'S AUSTRALIA DAY, 2014

OUR SAY: GETTING THE ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY MORE INVOLVED

The Central Western Daily contacted several leaders of the Aboriginal community in Orange and although none were prepared to comment publicly on the issue, one representative said it was probably an oversight and a “scheduling issue” that led to a non-appearance by a member of the Aboriginal community for the ceremony.

Orange resident Michael Newman, who has a high profile within the Orange Aboriginal community, said Australia Day presented challenges for some people in the Aboriginal community but he was keen to see his people work closely with the non-Aboriginal community in any expanded ceremonies that could highlight the Aboriginal history of the area.

“Some Aboriginal people celebrate Australia Day just like anyone else but for many it is a sad day,” he said.

“Australia Day to me is very similar to funerals, in that it’s a combination of celebration and mourning. At funerals, we celebrate the person’s life and mourn their passing and the loss that their death has created. On Australia Day I celebrate the survival, strength and resilience of my people and our successes, triumphs, relationships and, ultimately, our reconciliation as one great nation.”

However, he said he also mourned on Australia day for the historical tragedies that were inflicted on his people and the pain and loss that is still felt today.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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