REMAIN: Protestors remain camped out at the Deebing Creek Mission site during NAIDOC Week.
REMAIN: Protestors remain camped out at the Deebing Creek Mission site during NAIDOC Week. Cordell Richardson

'We need respect': Deebing Creek at coalface of NAIDOC fight

VOICE, treaty and truth; the theme of this year's NAIDOC week is designed to stoke the fire within Australians on a march to reconciliation.

For the First Australians, the fight for recognition isn't constrained to one week each year.

At Deebing Creek, Aboriginal elder Roberta Graham is kept warm by the flames flickering within a small and sandy brick campfire.

She says Deebing Creek is a real-world example of the battles Indigenous people still face in modern Australian society.

Developer owners pushing a housing estate, which they say is respectful of heritage, are pitted against a grassroots group of Indigenous campers who have not left the site in 162 days.

Ms Graham will attend NAIDOC week events, but she doesn't celebrate.

For her and a handful of other campers, Deebing Creek is the coalface of the fight for an enhanced role in decision-making in Australia; the theme of this year's NAIDOC week.

"We need more recognition, we need respect as the First Peoples," Ms Graham said.

"There's a lot of racism that's still happening and we're still facing."

Recognition of Indigenous people as the first Australians has become more accepted in the 21st century, but not widely enough, Ms Graham said.

"It's something that should have happened a long time ago and being recognised now as the First Nations people is gradually taking off," she said.

"We want a treaty and we need a treaty first."

Elders are divided on the benefits of the Deebing Creek Mission to Aboriginal culture.

Some argue it was a dark stain on an already hideous history, but Ms Graham believes the mission "actually saved us".

"Way back then the white man shot Aboriginal people, killed them," she said.

"They brought them here and kept them safe here which we recognise, why this mission was established for our people.

Ms Graham said Australia's parochial songs and symbols remain unkind to the First Peoples.

"We're not recognised in our national anthem," she said.

"Our Indigenous boys, they're not singing it.

"Another thing that has come up is the flag."



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