BRIAN (JOCK) ALLEN’S VIEW OF THE EARLY DAYS OF TAMWORTH LALC
“In the beginning the Land Council meetings were convened in the Hands of Fame Park, it was hard to get people involved and invested in this new initiative under new legislation. Some of the challenges came from the perceived failures of the Protection Board and the Lands Trust. After the White and Green Papers were released, though the programs and processes had changed significantly, people were still hesitant or afraid of getting involved. The reluctance also grew out of a fear of being ostricised by their community, in their workplaces, or being seen as different.
We began with absolutely no funding, with a core group of strong Aboriginal people driving the Land Council movement forward. Difficulty arose in opposition from not just the wider community but your own Aboriginal community, naysayers. It was a challenge to get quorum at times, but the dedication of that small group of about 10 people meant that the Land Council could stick around long enough for other people to see the value in joining. Those naysayers left it up to that small group to make it work on their own terms, and that was the power of the whole movement.
Momentum built over 10-20 years, and there was a surge of memberships. The process taught Aboriginal people how to mobilise and to get together to make progressive changes and determine where they want to be.”
The Tamworth Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) was incorporated on 2nd February 1984 under the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (ALRA) to better manage and monitor the activities of the LALC with respect to the needs and aspirations of Aboriginal people in the area.
Tamworth Land Council has operated for over thirty years. During this time the land council has acquired fifteen residential properties, the LALC office, and thirteen parcels of land. The land is generally of unknown Aboriginal cultural significance, but one particular parcel is of substantial cultural significance.
The activities of the Land Council in the past have mostly focussed on providing benefit to certain members in the form of housing, access to transport, emergency funds, community programs and administrative support.
The staff has grown quite considerably in 2014. The current CEO was appointed in November 2009 and works on a full time basis along with an administration assistant who commenced in August 2009 on a part time basis and upgraded to full time in July 2014. A Trainee Administration Assistant was engaged in April 2014.
Tamworth LALC won the tender to establish the Opportunity Hub Tamworth as part of the NSW Governments OCHRE, this has seen a Project Coordinator and 2 Case Workers join the team in May and June 2014 respectively.
The Tamworth Local Aboriginal Land Council boundary includes Tamworth, Manilla, Barraba and Bendemeer, as indicated in the map below.
The area is primarily pastoral or bush land and includes Split Rock Dam, Keepit Dam and Chaffey Dam. Some areas contain rock art, burial grounds, ceremonial grounds, middens and numerous artefacts.
The Indigenous population within the Land Council boundary is said to be 4,722 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011 Census Estimates), but the local community believe the actual size to be 8,000 to 10,000. The Aboriginal population is concentrated in the Tamworth city and surrounds.
Boundary Map for Tamworth Local Aboriginal Land Council