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Yetta Dhinnakkal handed over to Bre community

At the handover of the former Yetta Dhinnakkal prison at Gongolgon on Friday, Deputy Secretary of Property and Development NSW Leon Walker, Brewarrina Shire Mayor Vivian Slack-Smith, Orana Haven Aboriginal Corporation CEO Tracey Gordon, and Chairman of Brewarrina Local Aboriginal Land Council David Kirby. Photo Layton Holley

On the anniversary of the landmark Mabo decision on Aboriginal land rights thirty years ago, the Brewarrina community has witnessed another milestone event on the road to restoration of Aboriginal rights.

On Friday, both the Brewarrina Local Aboriginal Lands Council and Brewarrina Shire Council took possession of the former Yetta Dhinnakkal minimum-security prison at Gongolgon, renamed Orana Haven.

Not only is Orana Haven an important service as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation service for women, but it also represents another step towards self-determination for First Nations people, according to President of the Local Lands Council, David Kirby.

“Acquiring Yetta is an historic event not just for the Brewarrina community, but for the whole region,” Mr Kirby said.

“Looking back on land rights through history, it matters. It’s like the history of the hand back of land, and being involved so closely, the handover of Yetta is quite overwhelming.

“Planning forward and looking to the benefits, it’s endless - for the Brewarrina Shire Council, for the Orana Haven rehabilitation centre and the land which the Brewarrina Aboriginal Land Council has acquired from the government.

“Between all three ventures coming together and collaborating, the possibilities are endless.

“This has been particularly interesting because it’s the first time a land acquisition has been made without going through the Aboriginal Lands Rights Act or Aboriginal Land Agreement process.

“It was acquired for one dollar from the government, and we have full freehold title over the land,” he said.

Mr Kirby believes the Orana Haven Women’s rehabilitation centre will set a precedent for other communities.

“Seeing the success of this project will assist government to make more decisions right across the state,” he said.

“As we move forward and start to see public facilities from over the past 50 to 60 years, there is potential for Aboriginal organisations to utilise those facilities for community

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