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Waking up the snake – building a coalition for hope

“Waking up the snake – a coalition for hope”, a quote from Dr Anne Peolina, well describes the deadly yarning on September 18 organised by Thomas Mayor, Torres Strait Islander, at the invitation of the Raising Peace Festival team to launch a week of thought-provoking events calling for peace (see https://raisingpeace.org.au).

Five hundred participants listened and interacted via chat and on Zoom with First Nations’ grassroots leaders from across Australia, thanks to the Raising Peace team, the many volunteers and networks for their solidarity. This combined energy created a powerful grassroots day with the inclusion of Australian South Sea Islander history, an often forgotten narrative for over 60,000 displaced Pacific peoples trafficked to NSW with the influx to Queensland in the 1800s.

Following a welcome to country by Nathan Moran (Local Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council), Thomas Mayor, National Indigenous Officer at the MUA, facilitated the first two panels.

Yarning with First Nations panel with (Waskam) Emelda Davis, chair of Australian South Sea Islanders (Port Jackson), Carol Vale managing director of Murawin, Shane Charles community educator and reconciliation advocate, and Adrian Russell-Wills film director, who introduced a screening of the documentary 88 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nlCxz650Yo).

Yarning Uluru Statement from the Heart and Truth Telling panel with community advocates Craig Cromelin specialising in community governance, politics, design and development, Dean Parkin, Director of From the Heart campaign, and Nicole Laupepa Youth off the Streets, shared the significant scope of work achieved to date.

Michelle Aleksandrovics Lovegrove, media and communications professional facilitated Yarning Mother Earth – caring for country with panellists Bruce Shillingsworth, “Water for Rivers” campaign, and Dr Anne Poelina, chair of Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council. Anne spoke of First Law and the need for unity in caring for country.

Yarning Walking Together panel with Nicole Laupepa, Jacqui Parker, educator and mediator, Michael West, culturally respectful engagement specialist, Remo Guiffre, founder and director of TEDxSydney, GeneralThinking and REMO, Miche-Elle Myers, National Women’s Officer for the MUA and Paul Wright of ANTAR focused on the ongoing work required to meet the objectives of Voice Truth Treaty and Peace.


Story by (Waskam) Emelda Davis and Robyn Hutchinson

To support the work of achieving First nations VOICE to Parliament, please contact:

(Waskam) Emelda Davis, www.assipj.com.au Footprints documentary on ASSI history


and Robyn Hutchinson, Women’s Reconciliation Network https://wrnredfern.org.au/


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