Uncle Rex Marshall with his latest awards.
Uncle Rex Marshall with his latest awards.

Smoking Ceremony goodwill

ABORIGINAL Elder Rex Marshall would love to know who gets $529 to do a Smoking Ceremony.

An article published in The Daily Examiner this week outlined a fee structure for Aboriginal cultural performers, published by the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs, but some of the figures have been called into question by the respected Koori spokesman.

“If you were gettin’ $500, I’d be smokin’ all the time,” he laughed.

But on a serious note, Mr Marshall said he regarded the cultural aspect of a Welcome to Country or a Smoking Ceremony as far more important than money.

“Half the time it’s not paid and that doesn’t bother me,” said the 67-year-old health campaigner.

“Sometimes you do (get paid) and sometimes you don’t ... if they offer I won’t say no, but I’d also do it for nothing.”

Mr Marshall said money was offered to Aboriginal people out of respect.

“It’s 2010 – if there are professional Aboriginal people they should be paid for it like Aboriginal dancers or white dancers need to be paid accordingly – that’s white man’s law,” he said.

“We blacks aren’t money hungry.

“Yes, it’s important that people have money and employment but there are more important things.”

Mr Marshall said government departments most often asked him to perform Welcome to Country ceremonies and one had offered him a fee of $150 last year which he accepted but the money never arrived.

“I haven’t made an issue of it, and if they asked me to do it again I would,” he said.

“It’s about creating relationships and when you create relationships you create respect.”

‘Half the time it’s not paid and that doesn’t bother me.’



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