“Time for change”: ACT Local Hero
If we don’t change anything, nothing is going to change, according to 2024 ACT Local Hero Selina Walker.
“We need to strive for better for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and now is the time,” the emerging Ngunnawal elder and leader said yesterday.
“This award was a bit of a shock, but it means the work I am doing is the right pathway to true reconciliation.”
A founding member of Yerrabi Yurwang Child and Family Aboriginal Corporation, Selina works to improve outcomes for Aboriginal families and children, especially those in out-of-home care.
Since 2018, she has promoted reconciliation as co-chair of the ACT Reconciliation Council.
Selina uses her platform to bring a voice to those who aren’t being heard.
“It is going to raise my voice,” she said.
“I have always thought of myself as having a pretty strong voice. It is hard at times to say the tough, uncomfortable things and hold people accountable. But if you say nothing, you accept it. And I absolutely no longer accept how the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are treated.”
Selina said reconciliation was about having genuine, sometimes difficult, conversations.
“Now is the time to have those, and Aboriginal-controlled organisations like Yerrabi Yurwang are the vehicles to drive that change we all want to see,” she said.
“Self-determination is important. I think we know what we are doing.”
Post-referendum, Selina said the community – and the country – needed to heal.
“We need to come together and heal and talk and reflect,” she said.
“That vote was not a defeat. It was a setback. But I am proud of my fellow Canberrans, and I am proud of the result here in the ACT. It was a demonstration that the work my grandmother has done before me and the work I do and that we will continue to do does influence change. It is possible, and it is possible for the entire nation, for Australia as a country.”
Selina said she will continue to fight for First Nations justice, alongside her friends and family.
“We are all heroes, and it has been a group effort for me to be able to do the work I have done,” she said.
“It’s not going to stop us. Our ancestors and elders didn’t get us to where we are today by accepting a no and not continuing to challenge the status quo. We heal, we reassess, and then we work out another path. That is how we have always progressed.”