Widjabul Wia-bal traditional custodians are deeply concerned about a rescission motion proposed for Rous County Council’s next meeting on Wednesday 17 February. This motion would overturn the recent decision to cease all work on the Dunoon Dam, rezone the land and begin the disposal of Rocky Creek properties.
‘In December we welcomed the decision to stop the dam which has caused us anxiety for years,’ said spokesperson Cindy Roberts.
‘After that historic meeting we felt that worry lift, we could breathe easy knowing that the graves of our ancestors and important heritage would not be drowned by the Dunoon Dam,’ she said.
‘Now three Rous councillors are seeking to overturn that decision with a motion to retain the land, to keep the dam option open.’
How many more times?
‘We are sick of having our voices ignored’, said Widjabul elder Uncle Steven Roberts.
‘For years we have explained the importance of our heritage and expressed our opposition to its destruction. How many more times do we have to say this? There are already two cultural heritage reports that say the Rocky Creek site is of huge significance.
‘We ask the voting Rous councillors to stand strong on their December decision and reject the rescission motion,’ he said.
Cindy Roberts said the following statement has been signed by over eighty elders and members of the Widjabul Wia-bal traditional owners and neighbouring tribes to show Rous County Council their clear opposition to the destructive dam.
Statement by Widjabul Wia-bal
‘We, Custodians of Widjabul Wia-bal lands of the Bundjalung Nation, and neighbouring tribes, want you to know that the area to be affected by the proposed Dunoon Dam is significant to us, to our people. We need to protect this land.
‘It is important to our Ancestors and for our future generations to be able to connect to our Ancestors and traditions.
‘This land holds our relationship with our living heritage and culture.
‘For thousands of generations we have lived on this land and protected it while it protected and fed us. To destroy this land is to destroy the environment which sustains us.
‘The proposed dam would destroy the learning grounds for future generations.
‘The suggestion to drown our sites to protect them (as stated in the 2013 Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment) is deeply offensive to us.
‘Additionally, the valley to be drowned by the dam at the end of Fraser Road is the site where we were moved to after we were dispossessed just over 100 years ago. It is important as part of our survival journey.
‘We, the Traditional Custodians of this land, will not accept its destruction. No compensation will replace its importance to us and our following generations.
‘We call on Rous County Council to return the land that it controls to the Traditional Custodians.
‘Do not construct the Dunoon Dam. Do not destroy our living culture,’ the statement concludes.
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Yesterday's meeting of the Rous County Council saw the rescission motion go down 5:3 after another passionate debate, but Cr Sharon Cadwallader said she remained determined to keep the Dunoon Dam as an option for the future water supply of the Northern Rivers.
Both WATER Northern Rivers and the Ballina Environment Society have expressed their opposition to the rescission motion proposed for Rous County Council in regards to the Dunoon Dam.
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