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Aboriginal advocates urge governments to listen to grassroots movement

Rhiannon Clarke -

Wadjuk Noongar Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker AM described the crowd that gathered outside of parliament house in Perth on Friday as "small but mighty".

The rally4community gathering saw Elders, family, friends, and allies come together in solidarity on January 12 for an international day of action advocating for improved First Nations rights.

The gathering aimed to promote enhanced resolutions for Indigenous people, as attendees rallied for the acknowledgment of local voices in initiatives that impact Indigenous communities.

First Nations communities have faced numerous challenges in the past year. One significant event was the Voice to Parliament referendum, with the overwhelming No vote and the accompanying rhetoric having a negative impact on Indigenous communities.

Additionally, there was another discouraging update on the "progress" of the Closing The Gap targets, with 11 out of 19 targets still failing after 15 years.

There is still a high suicide rate, an eight-year life expectancy gap, and a disproportionate number of young Indigenous people ending up in jail rather than pursuing higher education.

rally4community gathering saw elders, family, friends, and allies come together in solidarity with the Grassroots matter. (Image: Rhiannon Clarke)

A community development leader and the chair of the Koya Aboriginal Corporation, Professor Kickett-Tucker said it is now the moment to shift our attention towards the grassroots and Aboriginal community controlled organisations to lead the way forward.

Professor Kickett-Tucker said the protest is important because the movement aims to connect all levels of government with the grassroots communities around the world, particularly the First Nations people.

"[Rally4Community] is a movement in solidarity, heart and spirit after the defeat with the No vote but at the same time it's a clear message to the government, they gotta connect with our people on the ground," she said.

Speaking at the event was Noongar Elder Uncle Jim Morrison who spoke on the stolen wages of the Stolen Generation.

"They [government] threw us a bone just recently, 180 million for stolen wages for 10 thousand victims…do your sums, maybe 16 thousand each," he said.

"In 2016 my mother was offered 78,000, well the government did their sums, the following year she got two, where has this money gone that has been taken from us?

"We stood here a couple of months ago and our people were saying "what we gotta die first before we get compensation?" our people are dying without any closure," said Uncle Jim.

Noongar Elder Uncle Jim Morrison and Dr Hannah Mcglade (Image: Rhiannon Clarke)

Also speaking at the protest was Kurin Minang Noongar woman Doctor Hannah McGlade, who emphasised the ongoing relevance in Australia of the international convention on genocide, and noted South Africa's genocide case against the State of Israel in the International Court of Justice.

There was a strong emphasis on Noongar Elders and leaders urging for younger generations to show up and carry on the fight.

"We really do need our young people to stand beside us because we aren't young anymore...we need them to lead us old fellas cause we are getting tired," said Professor Kickett-Tucker.

"We need the legacy to last and that legacy comes with youth who have got the legs to keep running."

Professor Cheryl Kickett-Tucker co-organised the protest (Image: Rhiannon Clarke)

Professor Kickett-Tucker and those that came together on January 12 are optimistic this movement is just beginning.

"What we have done today on Noongar boodja is dropped a pebble in a pond…what happens is the pebble goes and it ripples out and it keeps going and that's a start of a movement," said Professor Kickett-Tucker.

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