The story of the scar tree was part of the Bangarra Rekindling program performed at the Saraton Theatre in 2017. Learning from past mistakes is an important part of Restorative Justice.
The story of the scar tree was part of the Bangarra Rekindling program performed at the Saraton Theatre in 2017. Learning from past mistakes is an important part of Restorative Justice.

Council healing scars with First Nations voices

THE painful event that occurred when Clarence Valley Council removed a significant 'scar tree' from local land was a watershed moment in the relationship between council and the local Indigenous community, according to general manager Ashley Lindsay.

In NAIDOC Week, Mr Lindsay acknowledged the relationship had not always been an easy one, and only by listening and working with First Nations people could they build a better future inclusive of everyone.

"This year the NAIDOC week theme is 'Always Was, Always Will Be'. This is a powerful reminder to everyone that our First Nations' people have lived here and cared for this country for tens of thousands of years," said Mr Lindsay.

"(The destruction of the scar tree) highlighted that we had an enormous amount of work ahead of us to improve our understanding of the Bundjalung, Gumbaynggirr and Yaegl people - the traditional owners and custodians of the Clarence Valley.

"As a result of this painful event, we have been focusing on developing closer relationships with local Elders and their communities."

A photograph posted by Clarence Valley Council on its Facebook page of the remains of the scar tree on the corner of Breimba and Dovedale Sts, Grafton, before it was completely destroyed by council. It forms part of the public notice admitting guilt as per orders handed down by the Land & Environment Court on December 21.
A photograph posted by Clarence Valley Council on its Facebook page of the remains of the scar tree on the corner of Breimba and Dovedale Sts, Grafton, before it was completely destroyed by council. It forms part of the public notice admitting guilt as per orders handed down by the Land & Environment Court on December 21.

Mr Lindsay said with the support of the elders, all council staff had participated in a cultural training program.

"The aim of the training was to provide everyone a greater understanding of First Nations people, their culture and their enduring connection to country," he said.

"We have been working closely with the Yaegl Elders on a Cultural Sites Mapping Project, which plots places of cultural significance, and we would like to work with Bundjalung and Gumbaynggirr Elders in a similar way."

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'Reckless' finding reveals scar tree cost to council

Scar tree loss a chance to learn, writes Janelle Brown

Council learns bottom line of scar tree destruction

Mr Lindsay said engaging with their First Nations staff members had helped the council in its cultural decision making process.

"These relationships are key in guiding the future of the organisation to ensure that we do not disregard these important cultural values," he said.

"We aim to increase First Nations employment within the organisation so that we have a true reflection of our community."

Due to COVID-19, NAIDOC Week was moved from July to November; with the pandemic impacting on the number of events that usually take place.

However, as part of its NAIDOC Week contribution, the Clarence Regional Library was proud to launch a new look for the library's Aboriginal Collection, featuring the work Islands of Breimba by local Bundjalung/Gumbaynggirr artist Danielle Gorogo.

Library team members, (l-r) Tahlia Scherger, Kahlua Charlton and Cate Duroux with the new Aboriginal Collection signage featuring ‘Islands of Breimba’ and some of the books in the collection.
Library team members, (l-r) Tahlia Scherger, Kahlua Charlton and Cate Duroux with the new Aboriginal Collection signage featuring ‘Islands of Breimba’ and some of the books in the collection.

Ms Gorogo and library staff will be at the launch of the new Aboriginal Collection branding at 11am Thursday, to celebrate NAIDOC week and what the theme of Always Was, Always Will Be means to our region.

Islands of Breimba was the winning entry in Clarence Regional Library's call to local Aboriginal artists to design a new image to reflect the Aboriginal collection. The competition was launched on Close The Gap Day in March.

"Islands of Breimba is about the mighty Clarence River which is the path the spirit ancestors took from the mountains down to the ocean and the islands that were created during that journey," Ms Gorogo said.

Regional librarian Kathryn Breward said, "We are thrilled to have our Aboriginal Collection represented by this artwork that reflects our Aboriginal community.

"We encourage people to explore our Aboriginal Collection, not only during NAIDOC Week, but all year round.

"It's a diverse collection including fiction, non-fiction, local history, and children's stories, and is available at your local library."



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