Developers move in on 'sacred Aboriginal burial sites'
A PROPOSED residential development on the Deebing Creek Mission site has angered local Aboriginal families who say houses and children's play areas will be built over sacred burial sites.
Major property group Australand lodged plans with Ipswich City Council in November for close to 600 homes on the heritage listed site.
The site began as a mission in 1887 and operated until 1915 when the mission was relocated to Purga. It was gazetted for Aboriginal purposes from 1892 to 1948 and then used for grazing where it was transferred into private ownership.
An intact brick well, historic plantings and a cemetery are noted in the Queensland Heritage Register listing of the site.
Current land owner Daryll Kelly lodged a proposal for a residential development under Deebing Developments in 2008 which received preliminary approval from council for further detailed investigations and cultural assessment and has not progressed.
The land has since been recognised as a priority area for future residential development by the State Government under the Ripley Valley Development Scheme and is surrounded by residential estates including Stockland's Sovereign Pocket and the recently approved Paradise Waters and other large lot estates along Grampian Drive also approved for development.
Australand could not be contacted for comment yesterday but it is understood the development site is undergoing surveys and has been referred to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protections and the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships for further assessment.
A group of 20 Aboriginal people representing the Yuggera, Ugarapul and Waka Waka people, who said their ancestors were buried on the site, gathered at the former mission this week to protest the proposal.
They said authorities had confused the mission's cemetery with the site where the headstone of the mission's teacher was erected in the 1890s.
Roberta Graham said the authorities did not consult all the traditional owners when they sold the land and on the proposed development plans.
"It is a very significant site," Mrs Graham said.
"It's a spiritual site to us. This is our identity here. My great-great-great grandfather is buried here. There's a lot of history. We want to preserve it."
The State Government has identified the Jagera Daran Pty Ltd as the nominated cultural heritage body for the area and consultation has been ongoing with that group.
However Wade Thompson said the Jagera people were not considering the customs of other tribes who were at the mission.
"One of our customs is never to have this ground touched or desecrated in any way," Mr Thompson said. "The people that are making the decisions here don't understand our customs."