THE extension of the Western Highway being delayed is an issue I feel needs to be respectfully debated.
Journalist JessieAnne Gartlan has covered so much, so well that I do not want to seem critical - yet here are so many nuances that have not really surfaced.
My underlying disquiet is that the rights of Indigenous Australians are only recognised at our convenience. Whenever rights might delay or impede progress, we react in well-practiced European colonist ways. Most of us have not really understood Indigenous people's spiritual connection to country, nor do we want to learn - except in short bursts that will not force us to step out of our comfort zone.
The message delivered from the NAIDOC week celebrations and the GARMA festival have said it so well but we need to be able to relate to the message at a local level.
We have ignored our shared history for too long. We are good people and cannot alter our past, yet we should learn from it and not keep pushing our wants over the rights of others. If real self-determination for first Australians is ensured where they can have time to nominate and elect their own representatives and have a real say on issues impacting on them, we will at last be on our way to true respect.
At this point in time it is difficult to understand why Indigenous people have several quite different views on specific subjects but when looking deeper it is quite understandable. How has the spokesperson come to that position and whom are they speaking for? When families have been split up, removed from homeland, denied culture and worse, it is hard to reconnect. It is hard for them represent their own when so much has been denied for many generations - so easy to challenge another family instead of the squatter.
It is easy to see dysfunction in other cultural groups but hard to open our minds to our own shortcomings.
Of course I want the highway extension to be completed and the delays are frustrating. I share most of the arguments but I want to feel legitimate connection with the land, too.
I wholeheartedly request that we look and listen at our place in history. How will we be remembered?
Rosalind Byass, Stawell
EACH year on August 18, also known as Vietnam Veterans Day, we honour those who served in Vietnam - including the 521 Australians who died and more than 3000 Aussies who were wounded, injured or became ill as a result of the conflict.
The Battle of Long Tan, on August 18, 1966 was one of the fiercest battles fought by Australian soldiers in the Vietnam War, involving 105 Australians and three New Zealanders from D Company 6RAR. A total of 17 Australians were killed in action and 25 were wounded, one of whom later died of his wounds.
Vietnam Veterans from Stawell will travel to Beaufort on Sunday to join up with vets from Ararat and the Pyrenees Shire for the annual commemorative service at 11am at the Beaufort War Memorial. 60,267 Australians served in the Vietnam War. There are 11 known Vietnam vets living in the Stawell area.
On Sunday the Australian, New Zealand and the USA flags will be flying and members of the community are welcome to place a wreath at the war memorial.
Des Leonard, secretary, Stawell RSL
WE WERE all recently posted a petition from the Member for Ripon, Louise Staley, calling on the state government to reopen Aradale.
Of course we all want Aradale to re-open. But Ms Staley's letter and petition mostly looks like political point scoring.
It completely fails to address the main concern here - the lead paint and protection for maintenance workers employed by Melbourne Polytechnic.
In due course this will be addressed by the relevant authorities. It is simply a matter of implementing well established OH&S remediation procedures.
It is not, essentially, a matter of calling on public opinion with petitions.
Alex Drosg, Ararat
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