Bendigo Advertiser letters to the editor

Women, carrying the wisdom forward 

This week, is NAIDOC week across Australia. Following this year’s theme of ‘because of her, we can’ I want to tell you about the importance of women in all the work I do especially within my Aboriginal Services.

Women play a significant role in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and this NAIDOC week we are asked to reflect on their contribution to the growth and development of our country.

For at least 65,000 years Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have carried dreaming stories, songlines, languages and knowledge.  In more recent times they have been there at the forefront of major turning points in Australian culture and history. From the Torres Strait Pearlers strike in 1936, to the 1967 Referendum - which included Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples in Australia’s population figures – to more modern issues such as the 2008 apology, Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander women have been a driving force for Aboriginal rights.

Having strong female role models is absolutely crucial to helping young people grow, not only is it important for young women, but young men draw so much from mothers, grandmothers, aunties and friends.   Across my organisation, Youth Off The Streets, we have female staff in every program, from schools to outreach to specialist services the women in our programs contribute enormous amounts to bettering the lives of young people.

We have so much to learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their culture. There are many inspiring stories from women on the NAIDOC week website at: www.naidoc.org.au. This NAIDOC week I ask you to reflect on the theme of ‘because of her, we can’ and think about how important women have been in supporting you and your community.

Father Chris Riley, CEO and Founder at Youth Off The Streets

FLAG: Aunty Lyn Warren and Trent Nelson take part in the flag raising ceremony at the launch of NAIDOC Week in Bendigo. Picture: CHRIS PEDLER

FLAG: Aunty Lyn Warren and Trent Nelson take part in the flag raising ceremony at the launch of NAIDOC Week in Bendigo. Picture: CHRIS PEDLER

Track safety concerns

The word, ‘Mountain Bike’ in the title of, ‘Spring Gully Trail Network Master Plan’(SGTN) targets a very narrow cohort of the cycling industry. 

The title of the plan sends the wrong message and exposes the governing bodies to potential safety and legal issues.  By nature, mountain biking is a dangerous sport requiring specialized track design, gear and technical skills of concentration, balance, speed, fitness and endurance. 

It is single focus and cannot be safely integrated with general recreational use of the Regional and National Parks. As admitted in the brochure for the Mountain Bike Trail at La Larr Ba Gouwa Park (Mt.Alexander),“for safety reasons the mountain bike trails must only be used by bike riders” (read danger).

It is naïve to believe that the proposed SGTN which begins in suburbia, is not going to lead to mishaps with unsuspecting children, walkers, and recreational cyclists. 

All who have been sharing this area for passive recreation for generations. When ‘out of sight’ in forests, self-regulation by the cycling community has not proven successful for general public safety or the natural environment.  Especially noticeable in the past ten years, ‘trail blazing’ has led to a proliferation of illegal poorly aligned tracks throughout the Greater Bendigo bushland. 

Erosion and silting is rife. Surprisingly, there has not already been a serious accident where unauthorized trails pass dangerously close to old mine shafts not visible from the trail. City of Greater Bendigo and Parks Vic (DELWP) need to carefully research future long-term management issues and ecological impacts associated with the extreme sport of mountain biking. 

It should only be condoned in defined, strictly managed areas and does not belong in our unique bushland reserves.

Kerrie Norris, Golden Square

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