'Sovereignty, not sorry'


Margaret Murphy, Daylesford

On May 26, National Sorry Day, a Jaara descendant of the Kulin Nation Susan Rankin peacefully reoccupied crown land at Franklinford in central Victoria. She is calling her campsite the "Going Home Camp".

This land was part of the Loddon Protectorate Station established by Edward Stone Parker in 1841. The protectorate was active until 1861 when the last remaining Indigenous people were removed to Corranderk, near Healesville.

Rankin and four supporters are camping on the site to raise community awareness that the descendants of the original inhabitants still live in the area and have the right to sovereignty over their land.

Rankin has asked the Department of Sustainability and Environment to produce documents proving that the Crown has the right to occupy these lands. According to the June 2 Daylesford Advocate, local DSE officers admitted they "cannot produce these documents and doubt that such documents exist".

Rankin has declared to the government departments, local Hepburn Shire Council and the community: "Enough of sorry, it is time for sovereignty."

The "Going Home Camp" hopes to highlight the unfinished business between Aboriginal peoples and the governments of the day, such as the need for a peace treaty .

While local community reactions have been mixed, many people have visited the camp and emails of support have been received from as far away as Argentina, England and the Pacific Islands.

Rankin hopes that the site will be developed as a cultural information and community centre.

[To contact Susan Rankin email <malgoonanga@riseup.net>.]

From Green Left Weekly, July 7, 2004.
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