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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

Rous County Dam

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Strong objections to the proposed development of this dam have been articulated by the Indigenous Heritage First Nations People of the North Coast. This proposal directly defies the cultural/spiritual/sacred significance of the land to First Nations peoples. The Australian nation recently witnessed the destruction of sacred land by the mining company Rio Tinto. In its destructive wake sacred objects dating back 40,000 years were destroyed and lost to culture. This vile act was supported by flaky legislation whereby the offender can apologise to the owners for hurt and pain, but not in any way apologise for the actual act of destruction!

How long will it take for settlers in this nation to realise the direct links between genocide and ecocide? Why choose to remain totally ignorant?

First Nations peoples actually do ceremonies to welcome settlers to land. This is not tokenistic; it is the manner of respect that culturally lives within a wider First Nations cosmology not understood by settlers.

What does this settler nation give back to the First Nations peoples?

Destruction of land, culture, sacred sites, poverty, early death, removal of children, targeting by authorities protecting ‘the law’, youth incarceration, youth suicide, endless incarceration, per capita the highest on the globe, deaths in custody (474 since 1991), and the final insult to culture, removal of Indigenous organs in prisons without consent. This offensive practice violates First Nations culture. 

We are all diminished by wilful ignorance. Time to show respect, give back, and work co-operatively with First Nations peoples. Yes to a [ITALIC]democratic[/ITALIC] voice in Parliament. No to the dam. Come together with goodwill. 

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  1. What a powerful letter. “Rous Tinto” had become a widely used name for Rous County Council before the majority of Rous councillors voted last December to scrap the Dunoon Dam. They clearly wished to avoid the reputational damage which would be inevitable if the dam were allowed to drown pre-European burial sites of the Widjabul Wia-bal people.

    Now it is important that people opposed to the Dunoon Dam let Rous County Council know that they SUPPORT the new Future Water Project 2060 which excludes the dam. They can do that here: https://rous.nsw.gov.au/future-water-for-our-region . It takes about 10 minutes . Be sure to add comments and suggestions. Those wonderful people who put in submissions last year have to do it again if we are to scrap this dam for good!

  2. As Dylan sang , the times they are a changing.. and this letter from afar demonstrates the eyes of the state, the nation, and the world have changed and will indeed be paying attention if some who stubbornly cling to the past gain traction in their calls for an outmoded dam again. The most strident dam proponents cling to a past where Indigenous voices were silenced, where violence was done to land and people with impunity. Now the harm is done by lack of care and lack of respect; by deafness, by nagging and by continual calls for “more studies”. If they succeed, the harm in future will be physical, spiritual, and it will be irreversible.
    It’s time for those those who respect nature and who respect the first people of this land, to speak up and protect what makes our area truly valuable and unique.
    It’s time too for those who value the many visitors to our region to ponder how the destruction, which the dam’s building would entail, would impact on the image of our region as ethical and focused on nature and conservation.
    Rous County Council made a historic decision to listen to and respect traditional owners in December. Its revised plan must be applauded and supported. Now is the time to make a submission and deliver an ethical future.


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