Candidates and their parties are putting their ideas out there for us to make a decision on how we will vote in the March 23 state elections.
Local Labor candidate Asren Pugh has said Labor will put forward $100,000 for the long-awaited Arakwal Cultural Centre Masterplan.
‘We expect and demand a lot of our local Arakwal and when I went to them and asked what they need they said “jobs for our own people on country” and an Arakwal Cultural Centre is a way of providing this and giving something back,’ said Mr Pugh.
Making the announcement local Labor spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs, David Harris, said, ‘The Cultural Centre will be a shot in the arm for the local economy and provide sustainable jobs and sustainable income for the Arakwal people.’
Talking to The Echo Mr Harris confirmed that Labor was committed to the funding announcement if they were elected regardless of whether their candidate was elected in the seat of Ballina.
‘Since 2001 the cultural centre has been in the making,’ said Sharon Sloane, general manager of the Arakwal Corporation.
‘This funding will give us the opportunity to develop a full masterplan around what we want as the Arakwal community integrated with Byron town and the lighthouse.’
‘It would be great, after all these years, to be able to tell our stories,’ agreed native title claimant Norm Graham whose mother Yvonne Graham was one of the original claimants with Aunties Lorna and Linda.
‘This will give us the chance to be able to tell our stories our way of where we come from, how we belong to this land, and to pass on our culture.’
The funding would be a kick-start to the planning process for the cultural centre that is envisioned to be a link not only between the town of Byron and Cape Byron lighthouse but also a key to ensuring that local culture and stories are told and understood.
‘It is about us and what we can give in our stories,’ said Annette Kelly, chair of the Arakwal corporation.
‘We can take people on a walk around on country and explain our stories, talk about respect and caring for our country. It’s going to work if we work together.’
In previous surveys, more than 50 per cent of visitors to the region said cultural tourism was a key reason they chose to visit the north coast.
‘Labor has a proud history of supporting the Arakwal people and helping deliver local jobs, including through the joint management of Cape Byron. This centre will create more jobs and ensure the Arakwal see some benefits from the local tourism