The rain mostly held off for the annecto NSW Seniors Festival event to celebrate Elders in our community.
An eighty strong crowd gathered at Circular Quay to board the MV Sydney bound for Clarke Island, in Sydney’s Harbour.
While the trip was originally destined for Goat Island, a last minute change of plans didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd which included, annecto Sydney clients and event partners Babana Aboriginal Mens Group, KBHAC, the Glen and Tribal Warrior. All were wonderful hosts and ensured the success of the day.
The boat stopped more than once to collect event participants, which made the harbour tour a highlight of the day.
The Glen Dancers, changed into their traditional attire and on arrival at the island, were ready to entertain the crowd.
Following a smoking ceremony and the dancers, Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner for Social Justice welcomed the crowd and spoke of the valued role of Elders in the community.
“Elders fought the fight for us to live the life we want, we now need to fight for them to live the life they want”
Alex Greenwich, Member for Sydney also addressed the crowd.
“I would like to call non-Aboriginal older people Elders, as we need to learn from your community how to respect and learn from older people”.
Estelle Fyffe and Board Member Ross Joyce were official representatives of annecto, with Estelle thanking those who came along.
“It was wonderful to see younger people on the day from organisations like The Glen, mingling with the Elders and seeing the respect they hold for the older generation.”
On the boat ride back, there were speeches, lunch and everyone contributed to a discussion around what are the things they want to keep doing as they get older.
Some great quotes from the day:
“I want to know our children are safe, have security and individual pride in who they are. We haven’t seen anything to guarantee this.” Uncle James Michael ‘Widdy’ Welsh – KBHAC
“Community acknowledge Elders for what they’ve done for the younger generations. Educate younger generations, when they are in a down place, Elders are there to help.” Uncle Lesley Reynolds – KBHAC
“There needs to be more done for Elders.” (Auntie unnamed)
Other comments during speeches aimed at Elders included:
“Without you there is no us.”
“Thanks for being the backbone of our community.”