11.5 C
Byron Shire
May 15, 2021

Storylines: Advance Australia Where?

Latest News

Bluesfest announces October dates for 2021 festival

After two disappointing cancelations of their event, Bluesfest has announced that they will hold the 2021 festival over the...

Other News

Entertainment in the Byron Shire for the week beginning May 12

Check out what's on going the Byron Shire and surrounding area this week

‘Seven and a bit’ stone

Stone & Wood are thrilled to announce the return of Festival of the Stone to their Byron-based Brewery, Saturday...

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: Elvis has Left the Building

My dog died. I haven’t been able to write about it until now. It was a month ago, and he was old, but it was still unexpected, and it leaves you feeling a bit raw.

Echo turns 35 and You are invited!

This year The Echo turns 35, and to celebrate this momentous anniversary they are putting on The Echo Community Awards – and everyone is invited!

Locals question placing homes in areas of inundation risk

It is where the community fought off Club Med and it is once again in the spotlight as the current owners, Elements, are seeking to have the zoning of the environmentally sensitive area in Bayshore Drive changed from tourism to residential

Remembering Bentley

Saturday 15 May is the seventh anniversary of Victory Day at the historic Bentley Blockade, just west of Lismore.

This article is made possible by the support of Ninbella Gallery.

Eli Cook

Australia, as a nation, is at a crossroads. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed our many frailties and brought them to the front of our consciousness. But rather than view these vulnerabilities as an existential weakness, we should be looking more broadly towards how we can adapt. For too long, we have been stuck inside our comfort zones. The pandemic and subsequent recession have dragged us, kicking and screaming, toward a distinct inevitability: Change.

Are we heading in the right direction?

Indigenous Australians are no different. We too, must welcome change for the betterment of our people. Too often we are distracted by political grandstanding and media indifference towards our very existence. Our treatment is Australia’s greatest shame and until Aboriginal people can advance economically, socially, and culturally, Australia as a nation will never become whole.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have always been able to adapt. For more than 60,000 years we have seen off enormous challenges: like climate change, rising sea levels, and colonisation. Throughout all this, we have managed to maintain our culture and connection to our homelands. This has been made possible through the overarching connection we have to each other.

The mysterious appearance of Aboriginal flags on the Brunswick bridge were a welcome sight on Australia Day. Photo Michelle Begg.

Future challenge

As one elder once told me; ‘Australia is like one big spider web. Our stories and our histories are all connected. We are all one people’. Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike must acknowledge this interconnectedness as we forge a shared history into the future.

But what is the way forward for Indigenous Australians? Is it through changing the lyrics of the national anthem? Or hanging our flags in parliament house during NAIDOC week? Whilst these would be nice gestures, they will not change who we are or where we have come from. Sometimes, when you look too hard for a solution, you miss the answer sitting right under your nose.

The solution is us. Our customs and our languages that our old people fought so hard to preserve. The longest continuing culture that can be found on planet Earth. So unique, so powerful. These factors have been the very essence of our survival. It is now time to consider how we can transition from simply surviving, to thriving once more.

It is easy to see our disadvantages. Unfortunately, for many of our people, we lack the economic foundation required to step out of this disadvantage. This has been brought about by many factors directly attributable to our past treatment: Stolen land, stolen wages, stolen children, suppressed languages, suppressed cultures. We have had everything taken from us. However, if we can only identify the problems, how do we generate solutions? We cannot continue to look backwards as a means of moving forward.

Minjerribah – North Stradbroke Island. Photo Wikipedia.

A future grounded in history

History is important and I am in no way diminishing the significance of Australia healing through truth sharing and recognising the wrongs of the past. In fact, I welcome such initiatives and wholeheartedly support the efforts being made in these areas. What I am saying is that modern problems require modern solutions.

Indigenous Australians need industry. This is something that we have lacked in modern times. Our people have forever been hardworking and innovative, but this has been stifled. Industry not only generates income, but purpose. A reason to endure and take risks. A reason to move forward and find opportunities. The foundation of such industry must be our culture.

This is evidenced in places like North Stradbroke Island where the Quandamooka people have managed to achieve something incredible. Through tourism and innovation, they are not only making advancements economically, but also through strengthening and valuing language and custom. Traditions that lay dormant for decades are once again reappearing from the ashes of colonisation.

Indigenous Australians are not going to disappear. Whilst, to some, we remain an inconvenience, we continue to adapt and survive in a changing environment. It is time for us to take the next step in our adaptation by crossing cultural barriers and finding a foothold through our own industries.

Our greatest asset is ourselves. We must take heed of our ancestors and their willingness to preserve their own existence. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will play a critical role in the economic recovery of this nation. It is time for this nation to invest in our knowledge, and together we will indeed advance Australia.

Eli Cook is from the Nyangbal clan of the Bundjalung nation.

His family are descendants of the South Ballina tribe.

As a local school teacher from the Ballina area he has worked closely with the Aboriginal community for the past eight years.

‘I hold a great interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advancement and seek to create stronger communities through truth sharing and shared cultural experiences,’ saya Eli.


More Storylines articles

Storylines – the education gap

Access to a good quality education can ensure that an individual will be successful in life. Unfortunately for Indigenous Australians, equal access to educational opportunities have not always existed. Whilst some might argue that this problem is rooted in...


Storylines – Call for Aboriginal housing and support

Byron Shire has been experiencing increasing rents for over a decade. It has become a very expensive place to live.


Storylines: Uluru Statement from the Heart

The 'Uluru Statement from the Heart' seeks constitutional reform to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have a say and be involved over matters that impact their lives.


January 26 – a conflicting day for Australians

January 26. A conflicting date for many Australians. For some, this date reflects over 200 years of destruction and denigration of our traditional customs, values, languages, and cultural landscapes.


Storylines: Bring back the balance

There was a time when humans were content with living in harmony with nature, our struggles were elemental and intricately connected to our survival.


Storylines: Advance Australia Where?

Australia, as a nation, is at a crossroads.


Storylines: NAIDOC Week 2020 – Always Was Always Will Be

It’s fast approaching that time of year when Black Lives do Matter – National Aborigine and Islanders Day Observance Committtee (NAIDOC) Week.


Storylines: Decolonise or Technologise

Imagine if we passed laws that were about caring for the land and the people, returning the old ways, bringing back the lores from the first cultures of ‘Australia’.


Storylines: Winds of change

What is the fear that immerses us to such a degree that we become immobilised? I felt that fear in the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the news actually started to make me feel ill, so I turned off the news and tuned in to my life.


Storylines: Our most vulnerable community

Doing the right thing. Staying home. Saving lives. But what if you’re not home. What if you are living off country as it’s too expensive to go home, or there is no work at home. What if you have no home?


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Power outage in Byron Shire

Power supply company Essential Energy says that approximately 1,780 homes and businesses were without supply this morning.

Filming of Byron Baes begins with no indigenous consultation

Filming of the Netflix series Byron Baes has reportedly commenced without any effort made by the show's production company – Eureka Productions – to consult with local indigenous groups or the local Council.

Byron Comedy Festival launched with a laugh

At a hilarious sold-out launch of the Byron Comedy Festival, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki had the entire Byron Bay Surf Club giggling last night

School Strike for Climate next Friday

Next Friday from 10am Byron Shire students will be demanding political action on the climate emergency in what they and their supporters say is our present, future and reality.