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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 8 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 2367..

MR SPEAKER (continuing):

Invitations were issued on 14 July to the following organisations: Ngunnawal Local Aboriginal Land Council, Ngunawal ACT and District Aboriginal Council of Elders Association Inc., Ngunnawal ACT and District Indigenous Peoples Aboriginal Corporation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Council, ACT Torres Strait Islander Corporation, ACT Government Public Sector Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Network, 1997 NAIDOC Young Person of the Year, and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council. I have been advised that the Torres Strait Islander Corporation felt it would be more appropriate for Aboriginal groups, who had been more affected by separation policies, to speak and that the Ngunawal ACT and District Aboriginal Council of Elders declined the invitation to speak, due to the sensitivity of the matter for them.

Pursuant to resolution of the Assembly, I call upon the Serjeant-at-Arms to announce the first speaker.

Serjeant-at-Arms: Members, Ms Agnes Shea, representing the Ngunnawal ACT and District Indigenous Peoples Aboriginal Corporation.

MS SHEA: Mr Speaker, Chief Minister, Leader of the Opposition, members of the Assembly, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. My name is Agnes Shea. I am an elder of the Ngunnawal people, whose ancestors roamed this land for thousands of years. I am especially proud of this heritage and look forward to a future with governments that acknowledge our history and association with the land.

The Follett Government's action to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Council and your Government's continuation of this process highlight the Government's commitment to develop better relationships with Aboriginal people in the Australian national capital. We the Ngunnawal ACT and District Indigenous Peoples Corporation (NACTDIPAC) acknowledge these commitments made by government in response to the recommendations on Aboriginal deaths in custody.

On 17 June 1997, in an historic event, the ACT Government resolved to apologise to the Aboriginal people of the ACT for the stolen generation and past practices and policies that discriminated against Aboriginal people. The apology is a firm foundation for the beginning of a better future and better relationships. Historically, the stolen generation, dispossession of land, the current appalling disadvantages in health, housing and education, and our relationships with the law are closely linked to the treatment of Aboriginal people since the new settlers came to this country in 1788.

Reconciliation is now firmly entrenched in the political agenda. We as Aboriginal people have had a history of broken promises, policies and programs that have made us more dependent, rather than given us independence and self-determination. For example, the establishment of the cultural centre has been met with some indifference to self-determination. NACTDIPAC proposes that the ACT Government provide a temporary facility for the cultural centre. It is absolutely essential for self-determination and financial independence that we run this enterprise by ourselves.

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