Tent Embassy protests extend to Portland in Victoria

Portland Victoria - Aboriginal Tent Embassy   Audio File Local Mayor explains the council views mp3

Jono Pech Warrnambool Standard 14th February, 2012

Portland Indigenous groups holding a tent embassy protest are demanding to meet with the state government over issues of Native Title and social services inequality.

Six tribes from the Portland and Heywood region have arranged the tent embassy at Portland's Market Square, one of many expected to appear across the country in coming weeks.

As well as lobbying for land rights, the protesting tribes - Yigar, Gilga, Kerrup-Jmara, Kilcarer, Cart Gundidj and Euroite - have claimed other clans are receiving preferential treatment, according to organiser Sandra Onus.

Ms Onus said after camping out for a week it was time for the state government to provide answers about the state of Aboriginal affairs in the region.

"We want the state to meet with us and discuss the problems in the Koorie community in what's been delivered in land rights," she said.

"Native Title is supposed to be according to custom and tradition - that is not happening here.

"The Native Title process is not delivering to traditional owners.

"We expect the state government to at least come along and meet with us."

Ms Onus said social services were inconsistently distributed to different Aboriginal clans.

She said the protesting tribes faced inequality in housing, employment, education and social services compared to other more powerful groups.

"We're very upset because we have no say over our country.

"We can go to as many meetings as want but we're totally outnumbered by other people from other clans.

"We've never had any real assistance in our struggle from any other Indigenous people in this community.

"We've fought for our cultural rights as Aboriginal people and we're the ones who get the crumbs for the master's table, and others who run the show get the roast dinner."

The Glenelg Shire Council made a point not to take sides yesterday when asked about the demonstration and whether there had been any communication with the groups.

"Council does not have a position on the issues expressed by those at Market Square," a spokesperson said.

Portland police said there were no legal problems with the tent embassy unless the council decided to take action against the use of Market Square.

The Gunditjmara and Eastern Maar people had a huge land rights victory in the south-west last year, winning a 15 year legal battle to receive Native Title over 4100 hectares of Crown land land along the Shaw and Eumeralla rivers, and from Yambuk in the south to Lake Linlithgow in the north

Tent embassy open to the public

Tiana Richardson spec.com.au 15th February 2012

The Portland Aboriginal Tent Embassy is gaining momentum after a week set up at Market Square on the corner of Percy and Tyers streets.

The embassy was established last Wednesday with the support of the Dindama Yinna Inna National Woman's Council and the Canberra Tent Embassy (not the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women's Council as previously stated in Friday's Portland Observer) and will be one of hundreds to be set up across the country in the coming weeks.

The goal of the embassy is to ensure individual clans are consulted regarding all Native title issues on their traditional land.

Organiser Sandra Onus said there had been plenty of interest from the community about the embassy, with the majority of the interest being positive.
"We are here to show to the State Government they must deal with the right people from country in regard to Native title," Ms Onus said.

"What we are asking is not hard, we are asking for the State Government to be aware of clan areas and to deal with the right people."