REMAIN: Protesters continue to camp at Deebing Creek Mission after a ceasefire between Indigenous elders and developers.
REMAIN: Protesters continue to camp at Deebing Creek Mission after a ceasefire between Indigenous elders and developers. Rob Williams

Developers reveal why protesters were allowed back on site

IT WAS a place their ancestors dreaded 104 years ago but as the sands of time have shifted, Indigenous descendants are now fighting to remain at Deebing Creek mission.

The Aboriginal Protection Act was passed in 1897 under the guise of providing "better protection and care of the Aboriginal and half-caste inhabitants of the colony".

In effect, it meant every aspect of an Aborigine's life, including the residence, movement, employment and wages, was controlled.

The Act and public sentiment made the lives of Aboriginal people tough.

Fast-forward a century and the descendants of those people who fought to get off the Deebing Creek land are now battling for its return.

They fear burial sites will be destroyed by diggers and covered in concrete.

Protesters have been allowed back on to their sacred Deebing Creek mission site after a ceasefire between developers and Indigenous elders.

On Thursday evening, a ceremonial dance at the mission celebrated successful discussions between Frasers Property and Aboriginal people.

Protesters had been camped outside the mission for most of the day while police officers manned a staging area on the site behind a steel farm gate.

How long the protesters will be allowed to remain at the site remains unclear.

Young descendants of the Yuggera Ugarapul people have promised to stand with their elders for as long as it takes to prevent development.

Joseph Buhmann is part of an Indigenous dance group that performs hundreds of times across the southeast every year.

"We don't want to build on it; this is sacred, it's a burial ground," he said.

"That's why we're here, to fight and help our family."

Frasers Property will not build on the mission site.

Instead, it will dedicate the mission and creek bank public space.

"We have agreed a set of terms to permit a number of the Yuggera Ugarapul People to maintain a presence on site as we prepare to commence approved works," a spokesman said.

"Those permitted on site have agreed to remain in the southwest corner which is not being developed.

"We are hopeful this agreement represents the start of a collaborative working relationship with the Yuggera Ugarapul People to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage on the site."



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