Central Coast students (from left) Lachlan Walter with the Freedom Ride plaque, Ashleigh Young-Reid holding the message stick and Michael Thompson with the signing book.
Central Coast students (from left) Lachlan Walter with the Freedom Ride plaque, Ashleigh Young-Reid holding the message stick and Michael Thompson with the signing book. Rob Wright

Freedom riders hit the Coffs Coast

IT HAS been nearly 50 years since Indigenous rights advocates undertook their Freedom Ride across NSW and that mighty milestone was recognised in Coffs Harbour this week.

A group of Aboriginal studies students, teachers, elders and Youth Connections staff set off on a 14 day, 2300km journey through northwest and coastal NSW to visit 21 communities and explore the issues affecting Indigenous Australians.

They began on February 12, marking the anniversary of the original Freedom Ride in 1965 and passed through Coffs Harbour last night.

Youth Connections worker Kylie Cassidy said the group had been visiting remote communities and asking people what they would like to see within the Australian Constitution which did not recognise them as the First People.

“We are asking people from these communities to put their thoughts in our signing book and their names to the message stick which we will give to the Expert Advisory Panel for Constitutional Change,” Ms Cassidy said.

“It is heartbreaking to visit these remote areas and in one, an elder said to me, ‘Look around, nothing has changed since the original Freedom Ride, we are still the forgotten people.”

Wyong High School student Jordan Molnar said his highlight was meeting Aboriginal elders and individuals involved in the original Freedom Ride.

“This trip has really opened my eyes and visiting the site of the Myall Creek Massacre in Inverell was so heart-wrenching,” Jordan said.

“There is still unfinished business with racism in Moree which made me feel sad and want to do something about it.”

The group will finish the Freedom Ride on Saturday.



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