NSW govt condemns racist cemetary graffiti

BY AMY MCQUIREMARCH 9, 2012

Originally published in Tracker Magazine.

NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Victor Dominello.

NEW SOUTH WALES:The O’Farrell government has condemned the desecration of an Aboriginal cemetery in Fingle Head, near Tweed Heads in northern New South Wales.

The words “KKK”, “White power” and a Nazi swastika were graffitied over several headstones and a wall this week in an act that has drawn international media interest.

It is the only Indigenous graveyard in the Tweed Shire and is a resting place for about 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The act has shocked the local community.

New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC)* North Coast Councillor Tina Williams condemned the racist attack.

“Just like the shameful destruction of diggers’ grave stones in Lybia recently, the Aboriginal community is shocked and angered by this attack in Fingal Bay,” she said.

“The physical destruction in this case has been accompanied by racial hatred, which, in all its forms, is not to be tolerated.

“I stand alongside those families, who’ve had their ancestors memorials destroyed, in expressing my shock and disappointment that such an act can occur in 2012.

“I thought Australia as a collective had developed a level of maturity above and beyond what we’ve just seen at Fingal. But I’m obviously mistaken.

“There’s an element in our society that sadly haven’t developed and matured at the same pace as the rest of us.

“This gutless act of vandalism and spread of racial hatred in the dead of night is as spineless as it is childish.

“I can only hope the full force of the law is brought to bear on these idiots.”

Community member Kevin Slabb told the GoldCoast.com.au website that he had siblings buried at the cemetery.

“This is out of character with Fingal people,” Mr Slabb said.

“I’ve lived here all my life and I don’t think anybody who lives here and knows the people would do this.

“”The Indigenous and non-Indigenous people here have always connected well.”

CEO of the Tweed Byron Aboriginal Land Council Leweena Williams told the website that it was a shocking case, and out-of-character for the community.

“We are glad of the wider support of the community and the police,” Ms Williams said.

“We want to send a clear message that this type of behaviour has absolutely no place in our area and should not be tolerated.”

State Aboriginal affairs minister Victor Dominello has strongly condemned the desecration and says he has pushed for the NSW police to investigate.

“Racial hatred in any form is abhorrent and reprehensible. In particular, any racist attack on a site that is the designated final resting place for people of any culture or heritage is disgusting and sickening,” Mr Dominello said.

“I stand with the families concerned and the local Aboriginal community in condemning those who may be responsible for this incident.

“I have contacted my colleague the Minister for Police Michael Gallacher and I am informed that the NSW Police have moved quickly to investigate the incident.”

Mr Dominello said he strongly encouraged anyone with information to contact NSW Police or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.

*Tracker is published by NSWALC.

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