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Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland

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13 June, 2021

Footprints ‘take action’ on inequality

Barcaldine held its first march in the name of reconciliation for First Nation's people.

By Michael R Williams

The Central West Aboriginal Corporation were the leaders of the march. PHOTO: Supplied.

USUALLY, a small morning tea, this Wednesday in Barcaldine the community marched, instead, in the name of reconciling the past.   

At 9 am the group left from the information centre at the former Globe Hotel and marched to the Tree of Knowledge.   

Emboldened by the community’s positive response to the Matya performance at the Tree of Knowledge Festival, Ronell Patuwai said this was the time to get people involved in reconciliation week.   

And they have, from other members of the Central West Aboriginal Corporation like Kerry and Janeece Thompson to Mayor Sean Dillon, St Joseph’s Catholic School, and Rob Chandler from the Rural Financial Counselling Service.  

Ms Patuwai said Reconciliation Week was a chance for the community to come together and discuss closing the gap between indigenous members of the community and the mainstream of society, the past injustices, and the value of harmony in the community.   

“I would like to see the whole of the nation come together to acknowledge and respect the First Nations people of our country, to understand the history, and the injustices of the past, and to see the importance of reconciliation,” she said.   

“We need to ask why aboriginal people are missing out, why is our life expectancy lower than others? Why are we incarcerated at higher rates? It’s about closing the gap.”  

The Central West Aboriginal Corporation has been working with St Joseph’s Catholic School to create little paper feet to place in the grass along Main Street.   

This is a response to the Hands Up! project conducted by not-for-profit ANTaR where organisers are asked to display a sea of hands.  

Ms Patuwai said the Corporation’s idea came as a response to this year’s theme being to take action.  

“We just figured, if you’re going to take action, you need to start by putting your feet on the ground,” she said.   

She said after the Matya dance on May Day the community came to the Corporation, with many children wishing to learn their dances and culture.  

“We thought if this great community can do this then we can make a big difference for reconciliation week,” she said.   

“Let our little outback community take a stand and show the rest of the nation what difference we can make by coming together.”   

Ms Patuwai believes the changes are already coming to the Central West community.   

She said that was part of the idea to move the day from a morning tea to a march.   

“I wanted to make something big this year, a little morning tea is nice enough, but I figured if the big cities can do a march, why can’t we,” she said.   

The Satisfaction Bakery has also given an in-kind donation in the shape of a reconciliation-themed cake and Central West Hospital and Health Service, Indigenous Health have also donated the morning tea.

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