Nyoongar Tent Embassy plans protest, celebrates win

An Aboriginal protest march is being planned for March 28 to take up issues such as the government’s miserly stolen wages offer and the proposed deal that would extinguish Nyoongar native title in south west Western Australia.

The WA government made an offer on March 6 to pay up to $2000 to Aboriginal people who were forced to work for rations in previous decades. It is an insulting offer that has been slammed by Aboriginal organisations.

The WA offer is inferior to offers already made in NSW and Queensland and will apply only to people still alive, not their descendants.

The other issue to be taken up at the protest is the government’s proposed deal with the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) to extinguish Nyoongar native title in return for a $600 million “future fund” and packages of largely unused land.

Protest against this deal has helped inspire the establishment of the Nyoongar Tent Embassy at Matagarup (Heirrison Island), which began on February 12.

The rally will start at the corner of Riverside Drive and Victoria Avenue at 11am and will march to parliament house. Speakers will include Robert Eggington, Iva Hayward-Jackson, Leonard Ogilvie and Bella Bropho.

The embassy is also celebrating as a victory the court decision drop to bail conditions on embassy representative Len Colbung.

Colbung faced court on March 15 after he was arrested for protecting the embassy’s sacred fire on February 23. The February 23 incident was the second time police tried to close down the embassy.

Even though there were about half a dozen camp fires on the island at the time, police targeted the symbolic “sacred fire” that marked the centre of the embassy’s meeting circle and put it out.

Colbung had a bail condition preventing him from returning to the island, but this condition was dropped by the magistrate on March 15. He immediately returned to the embassy to make camp and celebrate.

The embassy now has a website. Visit tentembassywa.com to join the embassy’s mailing list and to get other updates.

The video below shows Len Colbung's return to the Tent Embassy.

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