Thursday, 25 August 2016

Learning Ancient language on Country

by Jonathan Cassell

Out of respect to Gumbaynggirr People and Country, I say Giinagay Ngujawiny (Hello everyone!).

Greens Candidate Jonathan Cassell with Mr Clark Webb

When I first started learning the Gumbaynggirr language, I was sitting in at the Mid North Coast TAFE class with 6-8 other students. The class was mostly made up of Gumbaynggirr people but my partner and I sat eagerly watching our energetic Gumbaynggirr teacher. 

As the weeks passed we learnt language, sang songs both traditional and new, and deepened cultural understandings for the Gumbaynggirr people. I found the language instantly rich in depth and yet relatively straight forward. The most difficult aspect of learning any language, I have found, is training the tongue and mouth to move sounds in new ways. It was certainly no different here!

The language in the early days was also difficult to internalise because very few people speak Gumbaynggirr locally and nobody in my immediate circle. This leant me to be drawn more so to the cultural values associated with shape and form of the Gumbaynggirr language. What impressed upon me most in regard to the underpinnings of the language was that it came directly from country. There is a Gumbaynggirr story about how language came to be that exists between major bindarray (rivers) in the area made in relation to territory marked out by an ancestor. Essentially, each Gumbaynggirr word is a life form rising out of the land as rivers, plants and animals also take their place. 

The Gumbaynggirr people embody their language and they in turn are embodied by the land. This ancient language cannot be used to simply colonise other landscapes or foreign places; unlike English. It is of this region and for this region!

As a decendant of white Australia, I have spent two years taking classes. Most of my classes have been informal at the Wongala Estate with a strong mob of local Gumbaynggirr people young and old. Language needs to be held in community and not merely institutionalised. This is my latest learning and it makes sense. Learning language needs to have a cultural context in order to respect its origins and future. It is not just a case of memorising words and grammar. You can’t separate Gumbaynggirr language from its people or their land. It is not good enough to learn and teach Gumbaynggirr language and not also reconcile to the heart of this ancient land and its people, The Gumbaynggirr. Reconciliation is with land, language, and new ways of seeing!

Thank you to my Gumbaynggirr teachers David Prosser, Clark Webb and Uncle Barry Hoskins.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Planning for climate change and appropriate coastal development.

The Coffs Harbour launch of the NSW Greens plan to protect the state's coasts and waterways was held at Sapphire Beach on Friday 19th August. Visiting Greens MLC David Shoebridge met with local Council candidates to discuss the impact of coastal erosion in the Coffs Harbour LGA.

David Shoebridge, Craig Christie, Clr Sally Townley and Jonathan Cassel at Sapphire Beach

"It is criminal for any local council to be allowing itself to approve private development that is at risk of coastal inundation. As we saw with the recent coastal storms that battered the coast at places such as Collaroy, we are already paying the cost of past poor development with private and public infrastructure now being damaged or lost.” said Mr Shoebridge.

Coffs Harbour's Green councillor Dr Sally Townley showed Mr Shoebridge some examples of homes which are directly under threat of coastal erosion. "Our challenge now is to have appropriate planning controls which acknowledge the movement of the shoreline. There are numerous examples of property loss on the NSW coast and we must act now to avoid building new homes and infrastructure in the coastal hazard zone" she said. 

Channel 7 News Footage
The group visited Emerald Avenue in Sapphire Beach, where at least four homes face immediate risk, having lost part of their yards already.   Mr Craig Christie, Greens candidate for Council identified the cost burden on ratepayers as an important factor. "Ratepayers need rational long term, decisions that will protect the coast and future generations from the cost and heartbreak caused by inappropriate development in locations where there is risk of coastal indundation or damage from storm surge" he said. I love living here and I want to protect the natural beauty that makes our place special. With more Greens Councillors we can protect our infrastructure and our important natural assets.” 

Preventing inappropriate coastal development saves private residents and council the cost of repairing, defending and rebuilding housing and infrastructure damaged from coastal inundation," Mr Shoebridge said.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Meet the Candidates

The Coffs Harbour Greens Team for the 2016 Local Government elections. 

"Key platforms for us are transparency and participation. We want the community to have maximum access to information about Council spending and decision-making. We also want to encourage as many forms of participation as possible; more public involvement leads to better outcomes. In addition, we commit to protection of our coastline and waterways and to Councils transition to renewable energy."  – Lead candidate Dr Sally Townley

1. DR SALLY TOWNLEY has been a Coffs resident for 16 years and an elected Councillor for the past four. She is a professional Environmental Scientist, with a degree in Coastal Management and a PhD in Wildlife Biology. Her career of 25 years includes consulting for government departments such as National Parks and Forestry and for private interests such as land development and mining. 

She spent a number of years working for NSW state government developing conservation and land management policies, as well as two years working on the staff of CHCC. She is married with two teenage children and plays many active roles in the community, such as school Board Director and coaching at the Circus School. 

She brings a wealth of professional experience as well as a profound commitment to the people and landscapes of the Coffs Harbour area.  

2. CRAIG CHRISTIE has represented the Coffs Harbour Greens as an Office Bearer for over 5 years and was a candidate at the previous state and local Government elections. Craig lives in the Northern Beaches with his wife Megan and their three children.

Craig has strong business acumen and brings to the Green's team his extensive experience as a Business Process Specialist and Business Manager. Working with large local and multi-national firms as an IT and Business consultant has exposed him to quality governance and accountability practices that he strongly believes should be reflected in Government practices.

Craig supports various community based initiatives and volunteers to manage local junior sporting teams, he enjoys the natural environment, particularly the beach and wants to help council find the right balance of appropriate local development and job opportunities while also preserving this region's wonderful natural and cultural assets.

3. JONATHAN CASSELL has lived on the northern beaches of Coffs Harbour for 15 years and has come to call the Coffs Harbour area home. He was raised in rural Queensland, growing up in a family involved in the horticulture and livestock industry. He now combines his life experiences and tertiary study in Secondary Education, Organic Agriculture, Complementary Medicine and Cultural Geography to advocate for a life-sustaining society.

Jonathan offers a wide range of skills in community empowerment and believes that human-scale development must be expanded to meet the vital needs of large and growing numbers of people as well as the vital needs of all species both now and in the future. Jonathan is deeply committed to ecologically sustainable development- development that is about people and life-support systems (such as food and water) not merely about profit and the continuation of inequality, greed and injustice.

4. MARK GRAHAM has been a resident of Coffs Harbour for over 30 years and has developed a deep understanding of the region’s environment, communities and economy. He has worked at all tiers of Government in the ecological and environmental fields. This has given Mark an intimate understanding of the workings of Government and has allowed me to develop the experience necessary to effect positive change within bureaucratic governance systems. 

Mark has worked in communities across Northern NSW to achieve sustainable environmental outcomes over the last 15 years, particularly within rural communities and agricultural industries and with traditional owners for sustainable water, land and biodiversity management outcomes.

Mark is proud to have represented The Greens in serving on Coffs Harbour City Council in the previous term. During this term he worked hard for sustainable and socially just outcomes for the City. He also fought hard for transparency and accountability in Council’s governance and played a leading role in community efforts to protect the most important parts of the region, such as the Northern Beaches and the water supply catchments of the Dorrigo Plateau, from unsustainable residential development and mining proposals respectively.

Since leaving Council Mark has profoundly enjoyed parenthood and working within many Aboriginal nations and rural communities to better understand, protect and restore the natural environment.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Coffs Harbour Greens- Campaign Launch 2016

All are welcome to the official launch of our 2016 Local Government Campaign, event details as below.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Federal Election 2016 - How things panned out.

Well it's finally pretty much all over - so how did we do?  Here are a few bits and pieces to help you make sense of it all.

What the Australian Greens had to say.

Our Page campaign was very successful and this newspaper piece sums it up well in many ways.
In Page non-winners can still be grinners!
AEC Results Page show Kudra increased the Greens vote by almost 2%.

In Cowper, Carol Vernon worked very hard and the entrance of high profile Independent, Rob Oakeshott gave the electorate, who clearly do not understand preferential voting, the chance to get rid of long-term incumbent, Luke Hartsuyjer, and so many turned away from The Greens for the first time in many long years.  Carol had this to say about it.

“Our campaign is indebted to our wonderful supporters and members who worked for the implementation of our detailed, published policies.

“Our Greens’ vote was impacted by two factors. One was the boundary change for the electorate of Cowper. Some areas with a good Greens’ vote were moved to Page electorate and areas with a previous lower Greens’ vote were added to Cowper.

“The entry of popular independents to the campaign also affected the Greens’ vote especially when they both espoused many Greens’ campaign issues such as tackling climate change, closing our refugee detention camps and funding our schools on a ‘needs basis’.

“It is obvious that many Cowper voters are highly concerned about the looming climate catastrophe. It is evident they want change, not only in relation to the impacts of global warming but in many other areas, including strong representation to direct a greater share of Federal resources and funding to our neglected electorate.

“With this urge for change we have experienced a reduction in The Greens’ lower house vote. However, I remain convinced that the detailed, costed, realistic and workable policies of The Greens are the best pathway to addressing the injustice and the social and environmental issues in Cowper.

 “Throughout the campaign I emphasised the need for Greens in the Senate. In the Senate The Greens have prevented and will continue to prevent the Liberal and National Parties from slashing support for our most vulnerable citizens.

“In the Senate The Greens defeated the Coalition’s attempts to increase university fees

“In the Senate, The Greens secured Australia's first ever national register of foreign-owned water entitlements to ensure that if our precious land is sold, it must be in the national interest.

 “In the Senate The Greens Party consistently defended our environment against those who see it as a resource they can plunder. 

“In Cowper, The Greens’ Senate vote was higher, at 8.7%, than the state average and contributed to ensuring the return of our New South Wales Senator, Lee Rhiannon to The Greens’ Senate team.”

AEC Results Cowper

Senate Results

We are indebted to both candidates for standing in these two electorates.  No one understands how difficult the task is, unless they have tried it and Carol also had health issues to battle but hardly missed a beat.  Such dedication is the reason The Greens are so successful with such small budgets and only volunteers to do the work in these electorates.   Thank you Carol and Kudra from the bottom of our hearts.

On that note can you donate?  We are looking to build a strong local Government campaign as so much needs to change about the current decisions being made.  If you can, here's a link with all our details.

Donate Here