Page 2388 - Week 08 - Thursday, 6 June 2013

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Strait Islander people affected by forcible removal”. On 13 February 2008, then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd led the nation’s apology to these stolen generations. It was a powerful and emotional day and one that many say changed their lives for the better. It was a moment in time that re-energised Australians to right the wrongs of our past. It has helped with the healing.

The second event marks the anniversary of the historic 27 May 1967 referendum which saw more than 90 per cent of Australians vote to give the commonwealth power to make laws for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and recognise them in the national census. The vote came at a time of significant world change in the late 1960s, from conservative and restrictive notions of the past to a more open perspective on the future.

The Australian community may have been divided and grappling with its involvement in the Vietnam War, but it was overwhelmingly united in its support of the rights of our nation’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. That special day in 1967 marked the beginning of a new era of acceptance and embracing of the significance and importance of the culture of Australia’s first people.

The third occasion, Mabo Day, on 3 June, commemorates the High Court of Australia’s landmark decision which legally recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a special relationship to the land. This decision paved the way for native title land rights.

These three events were nation-changing and their impact is still felt today. While these are indeed occasions for celebration, and while we acknowledge much has changed and there have been many significant improvements over the decades, we cannot stop here. This is particularly true in terms of the work towards closing the gap. The ACT government is committed to closing the gap between the life outcomes and opportunities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peers in Canberra and the surrounding region.

As I have stated previously, this is a long-term process, and so is our commitment. The ACT government is committed to working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to find solutions to problems which are a legacy of past policies and decisions, as well as present-day disadvantages and challenges. We are committed to doing this.

I have spoken a lot about the healing process and the work that needs to be done. But before I finish today, I would like to talk a little about how uplifting and inspiring it is to see the success and achievements generally of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans. Their input and impact are experienced across all aspects of our city. This includes those who work within government, those focused on assisting their community through outreach and those who ensure precious traditions and cultures are passed on to younger generations.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video