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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 2592..


MR PRATT (continuing):

week. They were the forgotten lot. My class was the first graduating class from the military college at Portsea not to go to Vietnam. Four of my classmates did. Two of those are now suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome. They need help. It is important that the community rally around these guys because they were doing what they thought they had to do. That was not the way that they were treated when they first came back. While I have said it here many times, on the anniversary, if you like, I will say it again, just to remind people.

It was good to see David Sabben, the commander of 12 platoon, the platoon that got caught up in battle of Long Tan. His wife, Sue Sabben, was my schoolteacher; so you can blame her for my lack of skills, perhaps. It was good to see David Sabben. He is in good shape. He was my first platoon commander when I was a young soldier.

Freedom day celebrations

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (6.14): Today, 23 August, is one of great importance in Australia's history. Forty years ago today the Gurindji people walked away from Wave Hill station and the British pastoral company, Vesty's, and set up camp at Wattie Creek, or Daguragu, as it is known by the Aboriginals—a day now known as freedom day.

Today, during the lunch break, I attended the 40th freedom day celebrations at the Aboriginal tent embassy where indigenous and non-indigenous Australians alike gathered not only to remember the actions of Vincent Lingiari and the Gurindji people but also to recognise the importance of what had begun on that day in 1966, when Vincent Lingiari said to Vesty's, "Righto, I am finished up. Today I am going to take all my people because you never give me money and I bin go to hospital. You never give me good clothes, nothing!"Then he turned to the Gurindji people and said, "You mob going to follow me now?"He spoke words that would pave the way for the rights of indigenous Australians for the future.

This was not just a battle for fair pay and decent conditions, it was so much more: it was the rising up of a people that were discriminated against. It was the first time that Aboriginals really took significant action and the first time they all stood up as one. In walking away from Wave Hill station, the Gurindji people walked away from terrible working conditions, pathetic pay and racist double standards. They began their journey to freedom

Before 1968, there was legislation in place that outlined a specific amount and stated that it was illegal to pay an indigenous worker more than that amount in currency or goods. Vincent Lingiari and the Gurindji people helped change that. Before 1968, if an indigenous Australian was eligible for government benefits there was legislation in place that stated the payment had to be given to the pastoral company the individuals worked for, not to the individuals themselves. Vincent Lingiari and the Gurindji people helped change that. Before the 1967 referendum, indigenous Australians were unable to vote. Vincent Lingiari and the Gurindji people helped change that.

Since the actions of Vincent Lingiari and the Gurindji people on 23 August 1966, indigenous Australians have fought for their rights, with great success. Some of us will remember the moving images of the great former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam on


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