3 February 2021

Barada Barna memorial teams give their all

The lives of Ethel Smith and Mona Kielly – two Barada Barna Elders who recently passed – were celebrated over the Australia Day long weekend at the Warba Wangarunya Rugby League Carnival in Rockhampton.

The Warba Wangarunya Carnival, now running for more than a decade, saw two Barada Barna teams sponsored by Whitehaven Coal take the field in a culturally inclusive event with the aim of bringing communities together from across Central Queensland.

This year’s carnival was unlike any other for the Barada Barna who took the opportunity to name their men’s and women’s sides after Elders who devoted their lives to their community.

Ethel Smith’s grandson, Jade Smith, said: “We’re coming together to represent the Smith and Kielly families and play our hardest for Barada Barna Elders who worked so hard to support their people.

“The men’s team this year was named the Ethel Smith Memorial Team – in celebration of my grandmother and Barada Barna Elder who passed away in 2019 at the age of 92.

“She was a strong girl who loved her footy and cricket and was a major Newcastle Knights supporter, hence the jerseys being in the Knights’ colours.

“The women’s team represented Mona Kielly, another strong Barada Barna woman who passed away last year.

“She worked her entire life to support and protect her people through Native Title and youth organisations. Aunty Mona was also a strong Broncos supporter which is why the women wore maroon and gold.”

The emotional event culminated in a thrilling six-point victory for the Mona Kielly Memorial Team who defeated the Dave Lennox Memorial Team 18-12. This marked the fourth time the Barada Barna women’s side has won the event.

The Ethel Smith Memorial Team also competed strongly but were knocked out in the quarter finals by the Purga Wagtails.

In tribute to the culturally inclusive event, the teams consisted of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island and Maori players from across Queensland and NSW.

“Our sponsorship of the two sides forms part of Whitehaven’s work to make a difference in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people around its operations,” Whitehaven’s Aboriginal Community Relations Manager Bob Sutherland added.

“This is focused on empowering local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through initiatives in the areas of early childhood education and support, schooling, skills development, employment and sport – an area which continues to provide opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to work together towards reconciliation.”

Pictured: The Mona Kielly amd Ethel Smith memorial teams at the 2021 Warba Wangarunya Carnival in Rockhampton.

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