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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 8 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 2381..


MR GEORGE (continuing):

I do not have much knowledge of the "stolen generation", only what I have seen on television and read in books and newspapers; but I do have a very close link, because my mother, who was originally from Queensland, had first-hand experience of being separated from her family. She was sent to what was known as a penal colony, that being Palm Island, in Queensland. Mum, alongside her older brother and younger sister, lived on Palm Island in the "dormitory" for eight years, a fair distance from her parent who lived in Normanton in the Gulf of Carpentaria. I could not imagine living away from my mum when I was only five years old.

I would like now to refer to the Bringing them home report. It talks about the Harold Blair holiday schemes, on page 10 - again an experience that my mother can relate to. She willingly went on one of these trips to Melbourne, but never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that it was basically run by the Queensland Government to support white people to adopt Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children if they chose to. This was not known by Mum until we read through the report.

The report writes about assimilation, racism, indigenous identity, cultural knowledge and so on. It is pretty disturbing, as a young Aboriginal person, to read and listen to the stories about the past; but I must say that it has given me a better understanding of what my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother have gone through in the past and that we, the younger generation, need to work towards the reconciliation process. As a young indigenous Canberran, I see this historic day as a very positive step towards reconciliation for the ACT and surrounding region, and I once again applaud the ACT Government for this move.

Lastly, I would like to comment on a program shown on A Current Affair last week. It stated that the generation between the 1940s and the 1950s, known as the Australian baby boomers, was out there having fun, fun, fun. I would ask: What was happening to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? Were they out there having fun, fun, fun?

I leave it there by saying that I am proud of all the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from that generation. Although you have gone through a lot of hurt and distress, most of you are still around today to proudly say that you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person - something that was difficult to admit in the 1930s through to the 1970s. Thank you for paving the way for the younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander generation.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr George.

Serjeant-at-Arms: Members, Brother Graeme Mundine, representing the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council.

BR MUNDINE: I, too, for starters would like to acknowledge that we are standing on Aboriginal land, the land of the Ngunnawal people. I would also like to recognise the Aboriginal law that is still being handed down today to that particular group and to other Aboriginal groups within the nation.


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