November 24 - 30, 2019: Issue 430


Aboriginal Support Group Manly Warringah Pittwater (ASGMWP)

Les McLeod and Ged McMinn - sharing Traditional dances at Sorry Day.

Aboriginal Support Group – Manly Warringah Pittwater Website:

Aboriginal Support Group – Manly Warringah Pittwater Facebook Page:

When, Why and How did the ASGMWP begin?

The Group was started in 1979 with a group of non-Indigenous people who took up active responsibility for their relationship with Indigenous Australians. This group started 40 years ago after a chance meeting of people interested in Aboriginal history and current struggles. 

Pam Beasley and Tom Gavranic were both travelling on the top of a double-decker bus along Barrenjoey Road toward Narrabeen. Pam was reading about Aboriginal Australia. Tom was interested in her book and papers – looking over her shoulder. It was a casual meeting between strangers, out of which a mutually stimulating conversation ensued. At Narrabeen, Enid McIlraith, an old friend of Pam, joined the bus. Pam was delighted to introduce her to Tom. An even more interesting conversation flowed throughout the duration of the journey. A future meeting was suggested and agreed to – the beginning of an ongoing commitment.

They decided that they needed to do something urgent and serious in their local area to change the way non-Aboriginal people understood and related to Aboriginal Australians

That small original group of people better informed themselves by reading and talking and then took the plunge to enter one campaign after another. They took every opportunity to speak with and listen to Aboriginal people from all places and on all issues. They made a strong decision never to speak on behalf of Aboriginal people but to work out serious and practical ways to ‘be there’ in offering effective, informed support when Aboriginal people needed it. 

Their numbers have grown and their involvement has been wide and interesting, people from many and varying backgrounds, living on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, have joined them.

At the end of 1981, the Group started thinking about producing information packets and a newsletter for members and other interested people. This was encouraged by Aboriginal friends and the first Newsletter was produced in March 1982. Today that copy has some historic value, if only because it was cut by typewriter on a wax stencil, illustrated by the hand-stylus art work of Joy Smith, and run off on an old Gestetner machine!

The title of the Newsletter was and remains 'Elimatta' which means ‘our home’.

In the autumn of 1987, Trevor Smith, Joy’s eldest son, volunteered to put the Newsletter on the computer. Since then other volunteers have shared their highly valued expertise, getting the Elimatta Newsletter out to readers. In the past these have included Helen Ford, Gwelna Quiggin and Jill Perkins, who had worked closely with Joy both within the Group and on the production of the Elimatta. As commitments increased, Jackie O’Hare became an invaluable colleague and in latter days, Anna Bell also became co-facilitator with Jill. 

You can see the Elimatta online at  

Members of the Group like Pat Frater, Carol Ritchie and others have sought to be a supportive voice and presence on issues relating to the Stolen Generations, Black Deaths in Custody and Land Rights, and to draw attention to these concerns – as well as others – in our local community. 

Enid McIlraith conducted on-the-spot interview for the community radio station, Radio Northern Beaches.

Some of those early teachers and mentors are now well-known Aboriginal leaders, such as Linda Burney.

What does the ASGMWP do?

ASG holds regular Information nights at Mona Vale Hall 1606 Pittwater Rd, Mona Vale on a bi-monthly basis. Some of the interesting speakers we have had:

Dr Keith Vincent Smith talking about Bungaree: ‘The First Australian’; Geoff Lambert from the North Head Sanctuary Foundation; Julie Janson - Sharing Her Passion; Shane Phillips, CEO Tribal Warrior; Aunty Fran Bodkin ‘Talks about Aboriginal Science’; The Documentary “First Footprints”; Meeting the Director Martin Butler; Jeff McMullen “But where are the human rights?”; Jasper Jones the movie made possible Collaroy Cinema; Author Ian Jacobs “Aboriginal rock engravings”; Author Paul Irish “Hidden in Plain View”; Dean Parkin ‘What was the Uluru Summit all about’?; Warriewood Cinema ‘Top End Wedding’; Alec Morgan, co-director talking about the making of the documentary ‘Ablaze’’; Uncle Bruce Shillingsworth ‘The Situation of the Murray-Darling River’.      

The biggest day on our calendar is the Sorry Day event, reflecting on the Stolen Generation and the trauma experienced by them and their family. Next year this will be held on Sunday 24th May 2020 at Mona Vale Memorial Hall. Everybody is welcome. 

Last year we had over 120 come along. We make it a children’s event with Boomerang painting, Aboriginal dancing, grass Weaving, a BBQ. It is a lot of fun but a serious day. This a free event sponsored by the ASG and Northern Beaches Council.    

 Aboriginal Dancing and Smoking Ceremony at Sorry Day 2019

How can community members support the ASGMWP?

ASG is a not for profit group. We support many causes and communities. We do this with Membership fees and donations. 

The more members we have the more ASG can do for the community. Membership is $25 per year.

Your membership helps with:

  • Aboriginal Education
  • Maintaining supportive relations with the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander community and organisations
  • Keeping members and the wider community informed about Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander issues and events
  • Encouraging awareness of the protection of Indigenous Culture and Heritage
  • Covers operating expenses and helps with the cost of producing the newsletter Elimatta
  • Organising Information Nights with guest speakers, films and discussion
  • Supporting the annual Guringai Festival by organising and assisting with events
  • Networking with social justice movements especially those concerned with Reconciliation and Indigenous issues and federal politicians and writing letters issues of concern
  • Membership of the NSW Reconciliation Council, ANTaR and the Northern Sydney Region

Members are encouraged to attend as many meetings as possible and to keep in touch by email and telephone. The group attempts to keep members informed about special meetings, events and actions that need to be taken. The ASGMWP website is updated regularly with such information.

Neil Evers, Bob Waterer and Julie Hendicott.  Sorry Day 2013

Interested in joining?

To join and support the ASGMWP please download and print out the membership form and send to the address provided.

ASG thanks the Dee Why RSL, Pittwater RSL, Avalon Beach RSL and Forestville RSL sub branch for their continued support.    

What will be happening at the 40th Anniversary on December 8th 2019?

ASG is 40 years old this year and is one of the oldest Reconciliation groups in NSW. So this calls for a celebration. That’s what we’re going to have - it will be all music.

Sunday 8th December 6.00pm – 9.00pm Mona Vale Hall 1606 Pittwater Rd, Mona Vale

Col Hardy OAM, and the best local talent you will ever hear - Deadly.                                 

Light refreshments and 4 special cakes, one for each decade.

You can help by bringing a plate to share.   

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Neil Evers Welcome to Country and Julie Janson, Smoking Ceremony
Budawa Aboriginal Signage Group and friends. Left to right; Aunty Lois Birk, Jess Birk, Julie Janson, Lauire Bimson,  Neil Evers, Jeni Thornley, Aunty Clair Jackson. Unveiling local signage in 2018.