From Reference 6 by Clive Williams

I am amused by the aims of the N.S.W. Aboriginal land Council as adopted at the Land Rights Conference at the October conference in Sydney.

I look back from a position of 63 years and see the track stretching behind me. There I am in my own office as Coordinator of Aboriginal Community Education in a College of Advanced Education. I have to pinch myself every now and again to make sure it is not a dream. Every now and again I shake my head and laugh. I see the days of the old Protection Board, Welfare Board, and still feel the insult of how aborigines were treated. I never felt the lash of the white man's tongue on a Reserve because I worked all my life for a living in a white man's world. I am still living in a white man's world but I'll guarantee I know more about my language and the culture of my people than all the hot young bloods screaming for land rights. For instance clause 4 of the above conference claims 'that all areas of traditional and sacred significance be determined by claims by local aborigines'.

I have no argument with the principle but as a man who likes to have an occasional wager on the horses I will bet that in most areas of N.S.W. only a handful of old people could tell with any degree of certainty what is a traditional and sacred site. Any Tom, Dick or Harry could tell you that's a bora ring when the white man has fenced it in but who around here apart from a few of my old friends could tell me the aboriginal name for that mountain or that hill or outcrop of rock or what aborigine is in charge of it. Who could tell me which lagoons are occupied by drangung or witch woman? Who knows about the little man 'nymbung'? Who protects our people against drangung? How many aborigines In this area can speak Bundjalung? Better still, how many are proud enough to converse it in the street? After all Italians, Greeks and other European races speak their own language but not our people. So when our people talk to me about saving our,culture I have to smile because they don't know their own culture, Who's going to do the saving? How many of our young people refer to our language as lingo? You will hear them say: 'who wants to learn that lingo'.

To my way of thinking after a lifetime spent in trying to help my own people I say. 'We've got the cart before the horse.' All this talk about tribal grounds and land rights will get us nowhere. Do you want to go back to the days of the reserve or onto tribal grounds where you will become museum pieces where some anthropologist or sociologist will come and study you? Or do you really want to get up and lead your life in the way that any free man wants to? I see education of our people as being the answer to our problems not land rights, education which leads our people into full employment in a trade or profession where they have a decent salary. This in turn will provide them with the money and leisure to preserve whatever of their culture remains. You cannot legislate for each tribe throughout Australia. Across this continent different tribes will want to preserve different things.

I get sick of hearing aborigines at meetings say, 'give us money to do this and do that'. The truth of the matter is we haven't reached the stage where we can manage our own affairs properly, Now I know that statement will stir you up but it's the truth and the truth often hurts. Let's concentrate on getting a proper education for all and then we can build on the right foundations. The white man has a lot to teach us about work. Tell a group of aborigines that you are going to put an aborigine In charge of them and they will laugh at you because they recognise that an aborigine could not organise them.

It all amounts to this, you must learn to crawl before you can walk. You must learn to understand the proper organisation that makes a venture work. You need to know about accounting before you can handle money, etc. You must get the people to understand that they cannot go walkabout in the middle of a harvest if they want a successful crop. You won't achieve an understanding of accounting or agriculture or insurance or money management by just sitting down on a tribal ground. You don't cultivate ground with money. What you need is a tractor and all the knowledge to operate it, when to sow a crop, how to fertilise it and when and where to market it. In other words, you must know these things before you start farming and this boils down to education.

I can take you to one successful aboriginal family after another and they are successful because they have learnt to work, save their money. educate their children. They have done this without a hand-out from the Government. So let's get our ideas straight instead of screaming for money and land rights, how about getting some ideas into your heads about working for it.

It's no wonder that I smile when I look back down the track, I see how far we have come and mind you that was achieved without massive handouts from the Government. Sure we need money but we need it to make it work for us in the right way. How do you think the white people are going to take all these wild claims about land rights. There is no way they are going to give up all this land. Do you want to stir up further trouble and further hatred for our people. You won't win by those methods. There is a way. of course, that certain areas can be set aside as sacred tribal grounds but that is around the conference table where through reasoned argument you can win. If you take the course of making wild claims on the first piece of land that crosses your mind you will set our progress back by years and years.