"We want to be one voice, we have to support all the people and back them up to come back to their own culture", Murray George, a Pitjantjatjara elder from Fregon community in the far north of South Australia, told a March 2 meeting in the Adelaide Activist Centre.
Murray, his partner Kanginy George and Adelaide-based Aboriginal activist John Hartley had just returned from an elders' meeting at the Alyawarr people's walk-off camp, 300 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs. The people have walked off their community of Ampilatwatja, which is prescribed under the Northern Territory intervention, and set up a protest camp.
Murray and Kanginy explained the cultural loss and disempowerment affecting their community and others across Australia. "Our law has never changed from the beginning", said Murray. "But our law is getting smaller and smaller and we worry for it. We worry for our children."
He said: "The government has to recognise us, we are Australian people. We want to go two ways. Whitefella way is too hard. We need to have Aboriginal way and whitefella way, together."
The stand taken by elders at the Alyawarr walk-off has generated discussion across Aboriginal communities about how they can support the protest and strengthen culture in their own communities.
Murray and Kanginy plan to travel to communities in the coming months to help facilitate a large gathering for Aboriginal rights later this year in central Australia.
Murray concluded: "All the people need to come together and stand up for all of our rights."
Sue Gilbey from the newly formed Stop the Intervention Coalition South Australia also attended the meeting and pledged her support in organising a strong South Australian contingent to the protest gathering later in the year.
[To get involved in the campaign, contact Sue at email@example.com.]