From pelted eggs and tomatoes to a First Nations Art Degree.
Who would have thought that a town like Moree, where Aboriginal persons were banned from the local swimming baths would transcend this discrimination and now live and work in relative harmony?
It goes to prove that, ‘ we can change the world because we have many times before’
The aforementioned Art Degree to be earned by a First Nations person from Moree is being funded by ongoing donation and sale of original art prints created and donated to this cause.
This exhibition is to be held at The Tempest Gallery, Kiama, from 5-16 December and to be opened by the Member for Kiama Gareth Ward.
And the eggs and tomatoes? Yes for the inspiration for this project we go back 55 years to The Freedom Ride of February 1965 led by Charlie Perkins, famous footballer and first Aboriginal person to gain a degree. The aim was to expose and confront and change the horrific discrimination of Aboriginal persons in outback NSW. This was at its worst in Moree, where First Nations persons were banned from the local baths. When confronted as to the reason for this, one of the councellors actually said, ‘ would you like your daughter to have a little black baby’, as this, as well as catching venereal disease was considered a possibility in sharing the same swimming water.
As the case was everywhere else, a demonstration, was held outside the baths. It soon erupted into a nasty fight with the demonstrators being pelted with the above mentioned eggs, tomatoes, the ready arsenal that had been brought along in crates, as well as violent, terrifying verbal abuse. Run out of town, the Freedom Ride bus was forced off the raised road under dangerous conditions by the a cohort of inflamed locals.
The ban was subsequently removed.
In 2015, 50 years later Sydney University organised a reenactment of this Freedom Ride, now taught in the NSW history syllabus, to celebrate this event and the positive changes it encouraged in its wake such as the inclusion of First Nations persons in the census, the result of the 1967 referendum
This time the welcome in Moree was movingly different. The road aproaching was lined with smiling healthy school children in the overlarge red SAFA( Student Activity for Aborigines) Tshirts. There were numerous celebratory events organised by the truly magnificent Mayor Katrina Humphries. But what was most touching were the teary hugs with, ‘you changed our lives’, ‘you told us we matter’etc
Moved by this reception and the realisation that we still have a long way to go, Machteld Hali resolved to create a scholarship to send an Aboriginal student to Art School and return as Art Teacher. She herself, also a member of the Diaspora having migrated twice under compromised conditions has a passionate belief in education and the regenerative power of the Arts.
With the help and support of the members of the Moree Town Gallery BAMM, (Bank Art Museum Moree) , local council and creative partner Shane Gardner, two Printmaking Workshops were held in Moree and work exhibited and sold at an exhibition at BAMM.
Members of Machteld’s workshops in Kiama have also contributed much fine work to the charity.
What with the drought and the floods there is not a lot of spare cash in Moree but the people of the Illawarra are known to be compassionate and generous.
You can be the one to play a part to ‘change the world’ and give a young person a future and Moree an inspired Art teacher. How can you resist?
For you Charlie!
‘The Tempest Gallery’: 21 Holden Avenue, Kiama
5 to 16 December, 10 am to 4pm.
To be opened by the Member for Kiama, Gareth Ward, Saturday 12 December, 11.00 am
All Welcome by booking. Covid Safe. Masks mandatory.
Contact Machteld Hali , 0422 542 943 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Donations please to Freedom Ride Scholarship
- Moree Cultural Art Foundation
- BSB 082 731 A/N 841 799 056
- Plus surname and ‘scholarship’.
 Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark
 Rachel Perkins, Freedom Ride, Film