Bangerang | April 14, 2016

Time to honour Bangerang leader’s life work

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Nationals MP for Northern Victoria, Damian Drum, today paid his respects to the late Uncle Sandy Atkinson, who has died after an extended illness.

“Uncle Sandy is regarded as one of the greatest leaders of the Bangerang people of northern Victoria and southern New South Wales,” Mr Drum said.

“He was tireless in fighting for the rights and recognition of the Bangerang and he leaves behind him an indigenous community empowered by his dignity and his struggle.”

Mr Drum has been a vocal supporter of the Bangerang claim to be a formal Registered Aboriginal Party – a cause which took up much of Uncle Sandy’s life in recent years.

“He was a true warrior for his people, but always conducted himself with enormous dignity and strength.

“With no disrespect intended to the Yorta Yorta people who were granted RAP status in this area, I agree with the Bangerang that there was a great injustice in them not being granted at least joint RAP status.

“This would give them an important voice in development in their own traditional lands.

“It is clear to me, not only from the arguments of Uncle Sandy, but from the written records and maps of early European settlement that the Bangerang, or Pangerang, can demonstrate an unbroken link to the land.

“There has been an application pending now for two years for joint RAP listing – a move which would bring enormous goodwill.”

Mr Drum said that a suitable monument to the life and struggles of Uncle Sandy would be for the Victorian Government, and the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council, to bring the RAP issue to a close and grant the registration.

“I met Uncle Sandy many times over the years, and I was always impressed with his leadership, his quiet resolve and his persistence.”

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