Many Indigenous and Indigenous-support organisations are established, including Guringai Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group, Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, the Aboriginal Heritage Office, Frenchs Forest Parish, Manly Environment Centre, Northern Sydney Region Reconciliation Network, Aboriginal Support Groups in Manly Warringah and Pittwater, Mosman Reconciliation, Harbour to Hawkesbury Reconciliation Group, Bennelong and Surrounds, Hornsby and Lane Cove Residents for Reconciliation and Ku-Ring-Gai Reconciliation Centre.
Establishment of the northside Aboriginal Heritage Office responsible for Indigenous material heritage in Lane Cove, North Sydney, Manly, Ku-ring-gai, Pittwater, Warringah, Willoughby and Armidale Dumaresq Councils. David Watts is the Aboriginal Heritage Officer and Kim Foley is Heritage Officer (Community Volunteers).
Skeletal remains of fourteen Indigenous people dated at 4000 bp [before the present] are discovered during excavations for a bus shelter at Narrabeen. They are the oldest skeletal remains so far located in the Sydney region. The remains are put to rest at North Head. Among the skeletal material are 17 stone artefacts including back blades. One man appears to have been ritually killed. Stone back blades, used as barbs on spears are found inside his body. There is also an axe mark on the skull. (abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/12/2125690.htm)
The Aboriginal Support Group of the Manly Warringah Pittwater region celebrates 25 years of work to support Aboriginal people. Enid McIlraith tells story of beginnings where they worked alongside Koories for the Long March 1988 and the rescue of the Australia Hall (the site of 1938 Day of Mourning Protest), marching for land rights and many other local events.
Most members of Guringai Link Aboriginal Corporation living north of Broken Bay, as did Bungaree in his early years.
Sue Pinkerton is appointed Aboriginal Project Officer-Northern, Sydney Aboriginal Social Plan. She bases herself at the Aboriginal Heritage Office in Northbridge.
Em Marne and Emma Franks are two Aboriginal year 12 students who live in school time at Biala Aboriginal Hostel. Em is a prefect at her school, Mackellar Girls High and Emma is at Narrabeen.
Phillip McLaren, a Kamilaroi novelist, lives in the northern area. His first novel Sweet Water - Stolen Land wins the David Unaipon Award for Literature 2007.
The Ryal Far West Children’s Home changes its name to Royal Far West.
2008 - 2009
Gawura Centre for Indigenous education is established at Brookvale TAFE. The active and influential Aboriginal Education Consultative Group meets monthly at Gawura to take action and work for Aboriginal education and cultural matters in the Northern Beaches. Notable work is done by hard working Indigenous members: Julie Hendicott, Lois Birk, Caroline Glass Paterson, Eliza Pross, Cliff Lyons, Courtney Lyons, Ian Raymond, Paul Shaw and Lana Shaw, Natalie Taylor, Albert Torrens, Sarah Torrens, Emma Lowrie, Eddie Goodall, Caitlin Lawton and others.
The Aboriginal Heritage Office in Northbridge undertakes strategic planning with councils: Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, Manly, North Sydney, Warringah, Willoughby site mapping, site management and protection, conservation of sites and recovery of human remains, Balls Head whale engraving protection, and working with Australian Museum, education and awareness programs in TAFE and schools. Festivals, NAIDOC and Reconciliation events, fostering Networks, local government conferences, National Parks and Wildlife advisory roles, Willoughby Aboriginal history project.
Growing recognition of Guringai Heritage by descendants in Guringai country. Many people of Indigenous descent are recognised by local councils. The 2009 chairperson since 2004 of the Guringai Link Aboriginal Corporation is Tracey Howie, a descendant of Sophie, Matora’s daughter and Charlotte Ashby, Bungaree’s grand daughter. Lynne Stewart is a descendant of Bungaree. Patsy Cohen is a descendant of Bungaree and Maria. Warren Whitfield is a descendant of Charlotte Ashby.
Tracey Howie, Chairperson of the Guringai Link Aboriginal Corporation, explains the difficulty of demonstrating identity under the Native Title Act of NSW.
That’s another argument with Native Title in NSW. As we know. We, Sydney mob, we were the hardest hit. They came in and they either killed us, or they bred it out of us, or they disease-riddened us, and all of our culture, all of our language, everything was outlawed. It became illegal, and there are, that proof is still there of those laws that were brought in. So how can we, therefore, prove Native Title when, had our ancestors done that, [publicly identified themselves as Koori people we wouldn’t be alive today. So it contradicts it. Native Title Law contradicts itself. How can you do it? You can’t.
I’d like to you know, elaborate, you know, when people say ‘the Stolen Generations’, it’s not taking anything away from the people who were removed from their families, but it goes deeper than just being the removal of a person, of a body. It was the removal of our culture the removal of our song, the removal of our dance, our language. Everything. It was all stolen. Not just the children. Everything was stolen.
On the Central coast and near Wyong, The families continue to meet every year for Christmas at Patonga Camping ground, near where Bungaree was born. Women remember old customs like jumping naked in the river on New Year’s night. No men allowed! They remember being told about the last corroboree at Chittawai Point on Central Coast. They know where there are five sacred sites. Tracey Howie says “Our concepts of traditional custodianship are that we didn’t inherit anything, it is our job to protect the land, we are borrowing it for our children”. (Oral history 2009)
Now in its ninth year, the Guringai Festival celebrates Aboriginal culture and heritage, honouring the traditional homelands of the Guringai people. It aims to raise awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in the Northern Sydney region and involves ten councils. Festival events include guided tours of Aboriginal sites, bushwalks, exhibitions and screenings.
The Festival coincides with the International Year of Astronomy enabling Koories to participate with many Dreaming stories about the relationship between ancestral beings, the sun, moon, stars and planets.
Susan Moylan-Coombs and Caroline Glass-Pattison, Co-Chairs, Guringai Festival Committee. Susan says: “We hope locals and the wider community enjoy this year’s Guringai Festival and all the events it has to offer across the Northern Sydney region, the traditional homelands of the Guringai people,”
Caroline Glass-Pattison is an Indigenous woman who works as a Community Development Officer at the Benevolent Society. She says “I believe in social justice and linking Aboriginal people to each other.” She works on the Social plan with Susan Moylan Coombs.
Memorandum of Understanding is signed between The Northern Beaches Aboriginal Education Consultative Committee and the NSW Dept of Community and Aged Care to put in place strategy for caring for aged Aboriginal people in area. This was carried out at a Community Consultation meeting at Ingleside with a smoking ceremony by Les de Jong.
Lois Birk gives an acknowledgement of country at the Northern Beaches Annual General Meeting of the Aboriginal education Consultative Group. She says “We acknowledge that we are on Guringai country at Stoney Range Reserve, Dee Why. We will listen to each other. We walk softly and gently and pay homage to Indigenous people of all nations. We respect the spirits of this place”.
Central Coast Aboriginal Education Pathways Awards honour 420 Aboriginal students for excellence in primary school and School Certificate, Higher School Certificate, TAFE, Young Connections, Central Coast Community College and the University of Newcastle.
Regional awards for Northern Beaches Aboriginal children from Kindy to University.