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Byron Shire
September 22, 2023

Gumbaynggirr Elder violently arrested in Newry State Forest

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Preceding a weekend of forest actions, the conflict in Newry State Forest on the Mid-North Coast further escalated late last week as NSW Police violently arrested and locked up Gumbaynggirr Elder, Bumajin, after he attempted to perform ceremony in the forest.

This arrest is the latest incident in an ongoing conflict brought on by the NSW Government at Newry who have commenced logging operations in a State Forest essential to the Minns Government promised Great Koala National Park and sacred lands of Gumbaynggirr people.

Sue Higginson MLC. Photo Tree Faerie.

Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment Sue Higginson said, ‘The fact that the NSW Government is arresting and locking up First Nations people so they can destroy their sacred lands is completely horrific.

‘We’re talking about a forest that Gumbaynggirr totem animals are dependent on for survival and Elders are doing everything they can to protect them. The government is ignoring them and forcibly removing them so they can destroy this precious forest.

‘Bumajin was performing ceremony on public land, his land at Newry. NSW Police, defending the interests of the NSW Government, violently arrested him and held him in police custody overnight. Meanwhile, the state continues to destroy the precious forest and the forest dependent species that live in it. We have reached a point that this has gone far enough.

‘This is absurd decision making by the NSW Government – they have committed to making these forests a national park but they’re sending in the police to commit violent acts against First Nations people in the name of breaking their own promise.

‘What is happening at Newry with respect to the Gumbaynggirr Elders and community is unbelievable,’ said Ms Higginson. ‘The disrespect being shown is disgraceful. The Elders with cultural authority have been cast aside, manhandled by police and ignored by the Forestry Corporation in their direct pleas to stop and listen to them. This has got to end.

Action on Gumbaynggirr Country at Newry State Forest. Photo supplied

‘The NSW Government has the ability to fix this problem right now, but they’re refusing to take action and make good on their promised Great Koala National Park.’

Actions around country

Sue Higginson MLC went on to say, ‘There are actions going on around the country today and tomorrow calling for our native forests to be protected.

‘The campaign to end logging our public native forests is stronger than ever in NSW. The only ones who seem to be unable to hear the loud, clear calls of the community are the premier and the minister.

‘It is not politically, environmentally, socially or economically defensible to keep logging these forests. The harm and conflict that has been created is completely avoidable and within the power of the NSW Government to stop. This madness must end,’ she said.

Bumajin has been granted bail and now faces court at a later date.

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  1. Would help if ceremony was explained. Did it involve fire? Was it safe?
    Some “elders” are unsophisticated and selfish. Sometimes the forest is obscured by all the trees.

    • Of course it was safe even if it was fire, 60 thousand years of experience on country has my respect, these are our beautiful local tribe who have “sophisticated” knowledge passed on from generation to generation, I call stealing land through attempted, planned genocide selfish.
      I am an immigrant to this Country and the first Australians of this place, that I have had the pleasure of actually meeting have always been generous and welcoming towards me, my own attitude is open minded, warm and respectful so prehaps you could try that and see if your experience changes.


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