Planning underway for Aboriginal referendum anniversary celebrations

Brungle-Tumut Local Aboriginal Land Council Members Sharon Robson, Elsie Freeman and Sue Bulger. Photo courtesy of Our Mob.

May 27 marks the 50th anniversary of the referendum which gave Aboriginal people the right to vote in Australia, and to be counted as Australian citizens.

It’s an important moment in history, and the Brungle-Tumut Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) is planning on going all out to celebrate.

They held an ordinary meeting last week, and LALC Secretary Sue Bulger said they have already gotten started on making sure everything comes together in two months time.

“We’ve started getting decorations and things, and we’re organising some flyers to remind people that it’s on,” she said.

“We’re just hoping that people come along and help celebrate.”

The festivities will involve both a lunch and a dinner to be held in Brungle, with the venue either being the Brungle Community Health Centre or the Brungle Hall, depending on whether the date clashes with planned renovations at the hall.

There will also be a concert at night with karaoke, and games in Min-Eve Drive during the day that anyone is welcome to join.

“They’ll be a game of rounders and a goal kicking competition, and probably a game of touch footy,” Ms Bulger said.

“We might also have a walk as well from the Health Centre down Min-Eve Drive and back up again.”

Fifty years ago, after both of the World Wars had passed and two years away from putting a man on the moon, the Australian Constitution still stated that aboriginal people should “not be counted” as Australian people.

This changed with the 1967 referendum put to the people by the Holt government, with an overwhelming 90 per cent of voters circling “Yes”; the result of decades of indigenous activism aiming to improve their treatment by society and the state.

It was a turning point in Australian history, and one that Ms Bulger said should not be forgotten.

“A lot of people don’t know about it and it doesn’t have any significance for them so they don’t remember it – people my age would know about it but younger people may not,” she said.

“It was a time when all of Australia needed to support that referendum with the Yes vote, and they did, and we’re very happy that we can celebrate that and be counted as citizens.”

The Land Council was the beneficiary of one of the Snowy Valleys Stronger Communities grants given to local groups as part of the Tumut-Tumbarumba merger, with $8,431 to be spent on the Anniversary celebrations.