Pride on display: Marchers proudly carry the Aboriginal flag during yesterday’s NAIDOC Week mark in River Street, Ballina.
Pride on display: Marchers proudly carry the Aboriginal flag during yesterday’s NAIDOC Week mark in River Street, Ballina. Doug Eaton

Marchers wave flag for heroes

EVERY day unsung heroes are working to make a better life for people in the local Aboriginal community.

Those were Nancy Walke’s opening remarks at a ceremony in Ballina yesterday following the NAIDOC march down River Street.

The ‘proud Bundjalung woman’ said this year’s NAIDOC theme, Unsung Heroes: Closing the Gap by Leading the Way, was particularlyrelevant in this region.

“There are so many people like that here,” she said.

State Ballina MP Don Page agreed.

He said respected elder, Bertha Kapeen, was the perfect example of an unsung hero, along with her son, David Kapeen.

“Bertha has made a tremendous contribution in education, health and cultural awareness,” he said.

“She has been a very important player in encouraging the Aboriginal people to believe in themselves.”

Mr Page thanked Ms Kapeen, and others who were ‘working so hard to make this community a better one’.

But he admitted governments were lagging behind.

“It’s not the people in our community who are lagging behind ... governments have been slow,” he said.

“They need to be more proactive in closing the gap.”

Ballina Shire deputy mayor David Wright also spoke at yesterday’s event, which was held in the grounds of the Bullinah Aboriginal Medical Centre.

He said Australia still had a long way to go in terms of improving housing for indigenous people, and that it was ‘extremely disappointing’ this had not been delivered by successive governments at all levels.

“Let’s be hopeful that whoever wins the election in the next couple of months walks the walk instead of just talking and promising,” Cr Wright said.

Local youth Jarred Roberts thanked everyone who participated in the NAIDOC march and urged people to enjoy the week.

Celebrations will be also held at Cabbage Tree Island, near Wardell, tomorrow.



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