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Cause for celebration: Olkola Aboriginal Corporation's Healthy Country Plan launch: TRADITIONAL OWNER MIKE ROSS TELLS US WHAT THE LAUNCH MEANS FOR THE OLKOLA PEOPLE.

WHETHER YOU'RE FROM the Olkola Aboriginal Corporation or any Aboriginal tribe, you need to have a plan for your future generation. How will your corporation work, how can people work for the corporation and what is the vision for getting land back? If you get land back and do nothing with it, there's no meaning.

For us to have an Olkola 10-year Healthy Country Plan means we are on the path to having our land back, regaining our identity and our connection to country. So, you get your land back and then people want to go back to their homeland but when you get back there, what are you going to do? How are you going to live out there? You can't just up and go out there and live. That time is over. So, by putting in a Healthy Country Plan that's your future and the future for our kids, our young people, and the generations to come. In the plan there are guidelines set out to learn your culture and regain your identity to country. That is the next step to self-determination.

Our journey, starting with getting our first property back, has been rough and hard. You think you're going somewhere, then you get pulled back. Putting a plan in place was very hard. Dedicated people kept moving the stone and that journey, working together. Now, we have a 10-year Healthy Country Plan, we have a corporation, we have members, we have employees... that wasn't easy.

We have targets to keep on progressing. The most important target to me is to see young people, our future generation, to know country, start to realise and respect the country, and to work with the land. You have to be dedicated and doing something. You just can't leave it. The main goal is to bring our children home because they're our next generation to hold our country in place. If we just do it ourselves, just us old people, then we drop it, the young people don't take over. That's where it's going to stop and it's not going to go anywhere because no one has the power and knowledge to go any further.

So, by bringing up young people now and giving them the power to give respect to country, to learn the culture and to learn why you're learning the culture, that's your identity. That's who you are, it doesn't matter where you live. Your identity is the main thing, it's who you are and where you come from. I'm Australian. No, I'm not Australian, I am an Olkola man, my country is here and my language is there. And if you think that, you can do anything in life. Nothing you say is impossible. You know your identity is secure and nobody can take it off you. That's my goal.

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Author:Ross, Mike
Publication:Habitat Australia
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Apr 1, 2019
Words:472
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