• A sign at the Wilcannia Bridge. (Supplied: Nick Chesterfield.)Source: Supplied: Nick Chesterfield.
The Wilcannia Bridge has been blockaded, with activists calling for government to listen to locals when it comes to making decisions about the Murray-Baaka river.
By
Keira Jenkins

Source:
NITV News
13 Mar 2020 - 3:53 PM  UPDATED 13 Mar 2020 - 5:03 PM

Activists and community members have held a blockade on the Wilcannia bridge, calling for action for communities along the Murray-Baaka/Darling that have been devastated by years of drought.

Baakandji Elder David Clark said it is time to listen to locals about the Murray-Baaka/Darling.

"We're here to give notice to government that it's about time that they started to listen to the word of the people out here and especially the Aboriginal voices in this Country because I think that we've been fobbed off too many times," Mr Clark told NITV News.

Menindee resident Barry Stone travelled to Wilcannia for the bridge blockade and said the action was taken to put a spotlight on water trading and "have it removed from market".

"The water trading has destroyed the whole ecosystem out here," said Mr Stone.

"We need to bring attention to that and we're saying to the government, 'get the water off the market because we've had enough of the destroying of our rivers, destroying the Aboriginal culture, just absolute destruction.

"We have to stand up and do it now, because if we don't it will be gone and it will be gone forever."

About 60 people turned out for the blockade on Friday morning for the blockade and Mr Stone said the group was in it for the long-haul.

"We intend to stick it out, we've got people on the bridge, just sitting around in chairs, banners at each end stopping it (traffic)," he said.

"We're bringing people together and we've basically become a team to fight for our water. We need to fight."

Protesters did stand their ground until police moved them off the bridge on Friday afternoon.

Uncle David Clark said while it's been good to see some rainfall flowing along the Murray-Baaka/Darling, it's not enough to break the drought.

"You can be elated in the first instance of the river, seeing the river flowing but what's going to happen when that flow stops," he said.

"There's no plan - I can tell them, I can tell governments and politicians what they need to do. The [river] system has been designed to sustain human life."

'We can't continue like this'

Brendan Adams has lived in Wilcannia for 20 years and said he's seen firsthand the devastation the drought has caused in the community, and others along the Murray-Baaka/Darling river systems.

"We've had no water in this Baaka for over five years and since then I've seen, personally, the impact that has devastated our people," he said.

"I've seen depression with the men and women and suicidal thoughts with the young people. I've seen the dispossession and the slow genocide of our cultural identity being taken away.

"The Baaka is the mother of our people, it is an entity, but at the moment, we've seen so much pain and trauma.

"We can't continue like this."

Mr Adams said today's blockade is a call to action for the people across Australia to fight for the river.

"The people who are here united today know what needs to be changed," he said.

"Lets not give up, lets not stop until we can get those changes."

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