From my heart, I acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, who are the traditional owners of this land upon which we are privileged to live, learn and thrive. I recognise that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have an ancient and sacred culture and connection to this land that goes back many tens of thousands of years and will continue for many millennia to come. I pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging and to the ancestors, whose spirits flow through this country and live on in the hearts and souls of their descendants. For an eternity, this vast and abundant land has been home to the Gadigal people. Their stories are carved into the craggy headlands, they echo through the salty air and flood the shores with the crash of every wave and the sweep of each tide. Their history is in every grain of sand on the multitude of beaches and gazes out of the glassy rock pools that line the coast. Much of your culture was lost, forgotten, destroyed when your language was banned and your connection to country severed by our actions. The stories that remain are filled with violence, blood, terror and heartbreak. Your people, Bennelong, Colebee, Arabanoo and Pemulwuy, were taken. Your children were stolen. I feel your isolation, descrimination and alienation. Your experiences fill my soul with sorrow and grief. Your story speaks to me and I listen with an open heart because we share an unassailable connection to this land. I believe that your hearts will hear my story and understand my connection to this land. With my family, I spent many days exploring your middens, beaches, creeks, secret watrerholes and mudflats of the Hawksbury River, the mighty Deerubin that borders the Eora Nation in the north. Four of us: Biyanga, Wiyanga, Babana and me. We made our memories and traditions. Carefree and curious I enjoyed the freedom of childhood, until Biyanga, my father, was taken from me. Now, my stories and memories live in the seashells that appear on the sandy shores as the tide recedes, they sway in the leaves of the gurrun Durung and they flail about with tiny schools of flashing silverfish beyond the shore. My father was happiest when he was outside, immersed in nature and enjoying the abundances of the land and waterways. That is how and where I remember him. Like you, my country connects me to the one I have lost and I feel his spirit flowing through the land and water. I feel your pain and know your devastation. Like you, I cherish the land and the connection it provides with our past and our future. With my heart I hear you and with your words I acknowledge and greet you Mittigar, Budjari Gamarruwa.