• Nationals Member for Benalla, Bill Sykes today participated in the annual Marngrook footy game at Bright P-12 College.
• Dr Sykes also took the opportunity to recognise the Bangarang people who are traditional custodians of much of the Benalla electorate.
Dr Sykes joined local community members, Bright P-12 students, teachers and some boys from the Wadeye Aboriginal community which is located in the Daly River Reserve in the Northern Territory, at the annual Marngrook footy match.
“To participate properly in this match we wear only a lap-lap and some ceremonial skin paint as we pursue a stuffed possum-skin ball,” Dr Sykes said.
“This game is part of the Bright P-12 partnership with the Thathangathay Foundation and the Kindred Spirits Foundation which seeks to provide broader experiences to young people from Wadeye, a seriously disadvantaged Northern Territory community.
“The aim is to also encourage students to achieve to their potential.”
Local Bright students benefit by having the opportunity to visit Wadeye and learn about their rich Aboriginal culture.
“Well done to Justin and Bec Crawley and the whole Bright community. It is a great project,” Dr Sykes said.
Dr Sykes also said that his experiences with the Bangerang people, traditional custodians of much of the Benalla electorate along with the Taungerong, Dhudhuroa and Yorta Yorta, had made a strong and lasting impression on him.
“I have worked with and formed great respect for the Bangerang people in Benalla. People such as Uncle Sandy Atkinson, Vicki, Marlene, Freddie Dowling, Jane, Kevin Atkinson, Uncle Wally Cooper and his boys Kevin and Jesse.
“Uncle Wally has a great ability to connect our cultures, highlighted by the words he uses when he does a welcome to country. He highlights that, ‘We walk across this country together’.
“One of my most treasured memories is from earlier this year, when with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs I met with over 100 Bangerang people in Benalla.
“We met four generations of proud, caring people with a very strong connection to their country.
“I wish them well in their application to become a registered Aboriginal party, which is currently being considered by the Aboriginal Heritage Council.”