Letters to the Editor

May 11, 2017

Lack of understanding

MAY I start by offering my sympathy to those people who do not understand what Aboriginal people have to go through before they are accepted into the wider community.

As for the Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony, well, you must first understand that the smoking of gum leaves is not smoked on a tray as you obviously think Mr Eley (Riverine Herald, April 26), but in fact smoked on a coolomon – and this is to deter any evil spirits that are on country and maybe in some people.

This is Aboriginal land, always was, and always will be.

We were the first peoples of this beautiful country, and yes, I too was born and bred in this town, as were my children and grandchildren.

You say the brigade’s door is opened for young Aboriginal people, but if the attitude of men such as you, who are in the brigade, then it is no wonder they feel unwelcomed.

Finally, Mr Eley, our traditions are certainly kept alive through our ancestors, and passed from generation to generation, and our culture which is taught in school is very strong.

No-one forces anything on anyone, especially to attend a Welcome to Country or a smoking ceremony.

Maybe if there had been a smoking ceremony that may have got rid of all the evil in people.

Debra Cowley, Proud Wolithiga woman, Echuca

‘Racism is alive and well’

VISITING your town I grabbed a copy of your local paper, bewildered as to the controversy of the opening of a fire station and smoking ceremony.

Well where I am from smoking is performed to cleanse the air and area of bad/evil spirits and to show respect to the indigenous people of the land, past and present.

I have personally attended openings of new fire stations where a Welcome to Country and smoking ceremony were performed and these ceremonies have no religious connotations whatsoever.

I must say I have never seen a smoking of gum leaves done in a tray, it has always been in a coolomon.

The Elders do not ask for payment as they feel it is a privilege to do this in recognition of their ancestors, who treated this land with great respect.

It is my understanding the Victorian Government has a Koorie inclusion action plan in place, so why weren’t those protocols which are in the plan not followed on that day.

With the attitudes which have been expressed by Mr Eley (Riverine Herald, April 26) and others I am not surprised there are no indigenous people in the Echuca brigade.

It seems racism is alive and well in the Echuca CFA.

If this is so then maybe Echuca needs to evaluate its current members.

Footnote: I come from a longstanding CFA family.

Mrs C Ryan, Healesville

Let’s not lose the golden goose

JUST a few observations on the current turmoil surrounding council-owned buildings in the Port of Echuca and nearby.

Firstly, the confusion over Oscar W’s tender and now the Discovery Centre.

When is a tender not a tender – when the conditions are altered to make it impossible.

Surely the successful applicant must have experience in marketing and events, promotions etc to show off the various attractions, although some are closed or not operating, such as the tunnel in the Star Hotel, upstairs at the Bridge, the photo caravan or people wandering through Murray Esplanade in period costume chatting to tourists and locals (if they are around).

What is the future of the old courthouse after much money was spent restoring it to its former glory, the unused police station, the loco shed in Sturt St and, dare I mention the old brothel?

The only council-owned and freestanding one in Australia.

I feel it could be restored and opened with ‘pretend staff’ to add authenticity. Imagine the free PR.

Larry and Joan Mitchell, and others, would turn in their graves to see the full extent of the goings-on.

In my view if strong measures are not taken urgently to restore the above the golden goose will be gone and no golden eggs laid.

Robin Donaldson, Moama

Help where it’s needed

AUSTRALIA’S volunteers are unsung heroes and I’m pleased to say there are two events this month that celebrate their contribution to Victoria and its communities.

World Red Cross Day on Monday coincided with the start of National Volunteer Week and so we’re using this opportunity to thank all the volunteers who make our society stronger.

It might be by donating blood, reaching out to an older person who lives alone, or spending a day of their week helping run a Red Cross shop.

It particularly comes to light during a crisis. I’ve been overwhelmed by how willing people have been to give their time to help people whose lives were turned upside-down by Cyclone Debbie.

More than 1700 volunteers and staff have supported communities in Queensland and northern NSW, including 100 from Victoria.

When the Bourke St Mall tragedy happened earlier this year, our volunteers stood with mourners at the memorial, providing emotional support.

This simple act of kindness helped people grieve and share their sadness.

Thankfully, it is not just during a disaster when we see the best come out in people.

Every day around the country people carry out acts of kindness, creating a place where we feel supported and included.

Their actions bring us closer together and make us feel more positive about our lives.

Think about when a friend or colleague, or even a stranger, has done something to help you, without expecting anything in return.

It feels good, doesn’t it?

This week, as we celebrate volunteers and the worldwide Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, let’s all make the effort to help someone who needs it.

Together we can dramatically boost the power of good.

Join us at redcross.org.au

Wenda Donaldson, Red Cross director in Victoria

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