Page 3291 - Week 10 - Thursday, 25 August 2005

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was an Aboriginal woman called Vicky Walker, who is the coordinator of the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in Melbourne. However, she comes from New South Wales. She is a descendant of the Mutti Mutti tribe, which is based around the Mungo national park area and Balranald.

I have had the privilege of travelling to that country in recent months. Having travelled there, I understand a little of what she means when she says that her country is Balranald and going there is like entering her mother’s womb. That is as good a description of what it might feel like for an Aboriginal person to return to their country as I have come across. A graduate in theology from the Nungalinya College in Darwin, Vicky is an excellent speaker and spirituality is very important to her. It is interesting that she can be a Catholic and also an Aboriginal person who believes in and is committed to the idea of the dreaming at the same time. I think that, if we are going to talk about multiculturalism, hybridism, tolerance and religious understanding, this is as good an example as you will get.

She took a very positive and upbeat approach. She said it is not true that reconciliation is not happening in this country any more; that, for sure, the federal government has put an end to active efforts to make it happen, but she cited some instances. She said it is now routine for most progressive thinking organisations to do a “welcome to country”. There are signs up saying that we are entering traditional lands, as we have here, “Welcome to Ngunnawal country.”

We have development agreements with Aboriginal people; we have Aboriginal people in parliaments around Australia, especially following the Northern Territory election recently. We are seeing Aboriginal people skilled up; and we are seeing much truer education about Aboriginal people in our schools. However, she made some points, such as that native title is not land rights and we must not think that native title solved the land rights problem. In fact, she feels that perhaps it has torn families and communities apart, as people have to prove against another group of people that they have more right to the land than another. As for “that mob on the hill”, as she kept saying, she said we have to forget about that mob and just get on with it.

One of the things she advocates and is highly involved in is the Opening the Doors Foundation, which raises money to give Aboriginal children a choice in education. Much as we are committed to public education, it must be realised that indigenous children often have no choice but that and often it is not the best choice for them because there are different needs. Because education is so important to her community, the Opening the Doors Foundation assists children to go to schools other than state schools in their area, if that is going to be best for their education. I know you were not all at the lecture last night so I thought I would bring the lecture to you.

ACT rugby league grand final
Awards and decorations

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (5.50): On this weekend the grand final of the local rugby league competition will be held, with the Belconnen team—the West Belconnen Warriors—playing against the Queanbeyan Blues. Hopefully, the result will be very good for Belconnen and Canberra, with the Warriors winning. They had a fairly narrow loss to United several weeks ago. I had the pleasure of being down at Kippax to watch

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