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Bright future for Brewarrina Land Council

Top row l-r: Land and Properties Officer Natalie Boney, Receptionist Charlotte Boney, Admin Team Leader Geraldine Boney and CEO John Reidy. Bottom: Media Manager Urayne Warraweena and Woman’s Group Leader Belinda Boney. Photo TWH

Five years ago, the Brewarrina Local Aboriginal Land Council was a small, one-person operation run by John Reidy.

Today, the team has grown to six, and the future has never looked brighter as the council acquires land with a community-first approach.

“We have made considerable progress in the last five years,” John Reidy said, smiling in his new office, busy with new employees.

“On top of being finalists in the National Indigenous Governance Awards, which will be determined in Sydney next month, we have just acquired some land out near Gongolgon, where we will be running some commercial projects.

“We are also in the final stages of Land Claim 1043, which has been outstanding since the 1980s, and once that is complete, we will be one of the largest landowners in the region.”

In 1983, the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act created a network of Aboriginal land councils entitled to claim unused and unneeded crown land.

Ernie Gordon, the then chairman of the Brewarrina Aboriginal Land Council, submitted his claim for about 8,000 acres in 1984, making Land Claim 1043 the oldest claim that remains unresolved by the state government.

“A pivotal part of the land council’s agenda is land acquisition,” John picked up, “which will be land for the community, so the land we have acquired near Gongolgon is a step in the right direction.

“But the big thing is Land Claim 1043, which has been outstanding for about forty years, so for us to finally get that to the table now in the final stages is a big win because it means the community can now step up and run the biodiversity-conservation programs that we are passionate about.”

John said that his new staff has significantly helped in making these inroads and that by involving the community in the organisation, the Land Council has never been in better hands.

“We have recently hired five people,” he said. “We now have an administration team leader in Geraldine; Charlotte is our receptionist, so she is the face of the office.

“Housing has been a big concern within our community, so for the first time now, we are stepping up and have employed a Land and Properties Manager in Natalie. She will give us a good understanding of the reality on the ground.

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