The Centre for Volunteering, in proud partnership with Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Corporation, is excited to add to the YarnUp series with a story from political activist, advocate, and community Elder, Uncle Ydo.

Listening to people with lived experiences, and amplifying their voices, is imperative to our work in the sector. It is a privilege to continue this partnership by sharing the story of Uncle Ydo (Githabul, Midjubul), told in his own words, as he discusses his tireless commitment to Community.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers and listeners are advised, this series contains stories of a sensitive nature and images, voices or names of people who may have died.

Full interview with Uncle Ydo, community leader and activist

Facilitated by Tribal Warrior Talent

I’m Githabul, Midjubul. The Culture means a lot to me. We don’t do it much at home now, it’s been lost in community. As we know, colonisation took over and we don’t have a chance to do culture.

As for me, I follow the Country and I look for culture. I don’t play no instruments though because if I do, then everybody wants me to keep playing – so I can’t stay still, I’ll go to the next town or next state.

I’ve been to Northern Territory 3 times, Alice 4 times. I drive on my own because I don’t want anyone to detour me. I’ve been travelling for the last 10 years, and that way I see more Country. But our people gotta learn to leave the four walls and stay outside for a while in the bush.

I give my time for Mother Earth because when I do, I fight for all the Mothers. In our culture we have uncles & aunties, but anybody who cares for anyone, they’re our mums & our dads in the proper way.

2 weeks ago, Mother had 7 porcupines. We hunt kangaroo and go turtle diving this time of the year. I go so I can show my Mob what’s happening on Country. That if they leave their boundaries, life can be better. In the old days the men left home and the women stayed at home with the young ones, but that was a mistake. We should be taking all the young ones and say ‘Come on, come with me!’ Now we try that at home, but no-one wants to come.

I’ve been belted a few times by the police and so forth. Because I was fighting for Mother Earth. My son is 6’7 and stood up to 150 police with me to stop the trucks from coming to the coal mine and to stop the gas. I’ve been up to Broome, down to Canberra if I want to, down to Victoria for the Djab Wurrung Mother Tree. I’ve been belted at the Tent Embassy too for wanting to help.

I’ve been walking with the Black Panthers in the 1970’s and involved in the Tent Embassy. And we’re still fighting today. I’m grassroots but I’m frontline. They call me all over this Country and I’ll be there. I’ve got problems up home as well. There’s a lot of old trees being knocked down outside of Grafton. Community called me and I’m on my way there now.

The best part is I’m fighting for the next generation, I don’t get any credit for it, but I don’t want that either. I’ve got to keep travelling on my straight line, pushing aside the negatives. We all have to come together against the government, when we do there are wins.

I just don’t touch maritime law. I fight for land rights and Sovereignty.

We’re fighting the government. Sovereignty was never ceded and nothing has been signed. They know nothing has been signed. So I do what I do, slipping away from the coppers and using my Culture name – not my English name.

The work I do is funded by community or donation. I make my own way places and just make it work with what I’m given. I have some t-shirts I sell but they’re only $10 so it’s not enough for petrol.

Country is beautiful, all of this Country. If you look properly, that’s what it is. The people make it a bonus – when you meet somebody you meet their whole family. They invited me to Darwin last year.

I been doing some work with schools up in Tweed in Fingal. Now I’m looking forward to building a bush school where kids can learn culture and hear my stories . It’s going to be solar and off-grid. No government can come on my property and we have to protect our property.

My daughter got 8yrs in prison after beating cancer.  She’s out and looks after my property now, the missus stays home and looks after her. I just can’t stay home, I’m like the blue moon when I pass through town.

I try and get the young ones to join me. Give them a place to stay with me on my property, rent-free in exchange for some work. We’re gonna plant the bush medicines and Gumbi Gumbi on our property out in Uki.

We gotta talk to them about the history and educate them that Sovereignty was never ceded. It’s not an academic battle for me. If somebody wants to cut down a tree, I’d rather be in a tree. Or we tie up the machines with wire so they can’t get us.

Right now there’s a koala forest in Bungawalbin that needs our backing and protection. Sometimes I’m the only one there. Everyone up in the NT gets worried about mining royalties, I don’t trust the migaloos to do the job properly and put things back in the right place.

Be positive, definitely be positive yourself. Know what your doing and go with your feelings, cos nobody can tell you about your feelings. They’re yours and it’s up to you to make the choice.

If you go with the negatives, you know something could trip over and go wrong. This morning I saw a man die on the street, I said to myself ‘I gotta get away from here’ I need to return home to Country where I can breathe the mountain air. See the Black Cockatoos flying over signalling rain.

If you show fear or you’re frightened, just keep going – don’t look back.

We’re still here and we’re fighting. We don’t know what today’s going to bring, but we can’t live off yesterday. We have to build our future and invest in our young people.

Yarning is so important too. If you’re not feeling right or feeling afraid, you can always pull up with Mob and have a yarn. Then you can feel better and keep going.

Learn more

About YarnUp

To learn more about this project and partnership, visit our website.

About Tribal Warrior

Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Corporation website (Tribal Warrior) is a non-profit organisation founded and directed by Aboriginal peoples, with Elders from various NSW Aboriginal nations at its helm. For more information on their range of programs, cultural tours and experiences, visit the Tribal Warrior website.