Dallas Donnelly looks at the walkway of the Grafton bridge where he was born in front of the second pylon more than 50 years ago.
Dallas Donnelly looks at the walkway of the Grafton bridge where he was born in front of the second pylon more than 50 years ago.

Dallas’s second coming

IT HAS been a rather different start to Dallas Donnelly's second coming as a Councillor with the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC).

"I knew it wouldn't be like the last time I was on Council but I don't think anyone in their wildest imagination could have anticipated what this first six months has been like," Cr Donnelly said from his home in Grafton, the town where he was born and bred.

His term so far has been punctuated by the tragic bushfires which raged through the North-Coast. There have been floods and in more recent times, the rippling effects of the COVID-19 health crisis which has re-imaged our way of living.

"It has certainly thrown up some unpredictable scenarios but in many ways, that's what being a Councillor is all about - dealing with situations as they come to hand and putting in place measures to achieve better outcomes for our people," he said.

 

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Cr Donnelly is no stranger to the Land Rights Network. Few can claim to match his depth of knowledge and experience on the North Coast. Back in the early 1980s, the proud Bundjalung/ Gumbaynggir man was the founding Secretary of Grafton Ngerrie Local Aboriginal Land Council and he worked as the co-ordinator and CEO of the Grafton, Baryulgil and Ngulingah Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs). He also went on to manage the former North Coast Branch Office and held down roles with the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Office of Aboriginal Affairs.

But it was his time serving as a Councillor with NSWALC from late 2010 which remains an appointment he is extremely proud of.

"I marched for Land Rights. My family has walked the same path and fought the same fight. We need to ensure we are blazing a trail now and creating a legacy that can be handed on to the next generation," Cr Donnelly.

"That's why I think representing my people, my Mob and my region by serving as a Councillor is a major responsibility which I take very seriously. They elected me to continue to create and carry on that legacy. I am extremely grateful and appreciative that the people of the North Coast have put their faith in me to serve as their Councillor."

Elections are held every four years with members of the 120 LALCs across the state electing nine Regional Councillors to form the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.

The North Coast endorsed Dallas Donnelly to represent them for the current four-year term at the December election. The Region encompasses 13 Local Aboriginal Land Councils from Grafton in the south, Tweed Heads to the north and Woodenbong, Tabulam, Malabugilmah and Baruygil to the west.

"NSWALC is a self- funded body operating through the NSWALC Statutory Investment Fund so there is significant accountability for Council with regards to how the Land Rights Network is managed and administered," he said.

"It is responsible for matters like land acquisition either by land claims or purchase, the establishment of commercial enterprises and the maintenance of Aboriginal culture, identity and heritage."

"My responsibility as Councillor is to participate in setting out the Policy and Procedures of NSWALC, to encourage younger people to participate in the Network and to ensure that there is a future for my Grandchildren."

"I want to see LALCs be economically independent and ensure that our Heritage and Culture is properly protected. If we can achieve those things I can be confident that we are leaving the Land Rights Network in good hands."

Cr Donnelly welcomes the North Coast to reach out on any matters they would like addressed. He can be contacted at dallas.donnelly@alc.org.au



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