Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 3 August 2017) . . Page.. 2470 ..
I raise this example, not as the key point of this motion or a question that we should seek to resolve here today. I recognise that many people do not support the changing of the date of Australia Day, and that is a legitimate point of view. I raise it as just one example of how our society could be better at incorporating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories and perspectives into our national identity.
First nations peoples should not feel like they have to choose between one world or the other; they should be able to walk proudly and confidently in both. It is also important to say that while this motion does not directly address the significant disadvantage that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience, including here in the ACT, I do not wish to hide from this difficult reality. The Uluru statement notes that Indigenous Australians are the most incarcerated people in the world, and here in the ACT we continue to see unacceptably high rates of Indigenous incarcerations at the Alexander Maconochie Centre. We have high rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people removed from their families and too many Indigenous young people in detention. The health and life expectancy gaps, which we have been talking about closing for so many years, still remain.
As I said earlier, we have a long way to go. Constitutional reform cannot be seen as a solution to all these problems. However, it is an important process that needs to occur alongside local efforts to address disadvantage and improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I hope that this motion today is not seen as just more political rhetoric in a space that has had too many words and not enough action. I understand the cynicism that has developed after so many years of stalled progress and lost opportunities.
I want to be clear that I do not stand here today trying to speak for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Our local Indigenous communities are full of strong, capable elders and leaders who speak for themselves and who can speak for their communities. I stand here today to affirm my and the Greens’ commitment to listening to these voices and to acknowledging that there is much more we have to do.
Given this moment in our history, l feel it is important to highlight the amount of work that went into developing the Uluru statement. This statement reaffirms what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been telling us for decades now: truth-telling and constitutional reform are fundamentally important to the ongoing process of reconciliation.
As members of this place, we must not shirk this opportunity to make a real commitment to the change outlined in the Uluru statement and the report of the Referendum Council. I commend the motion to the Assembly as an opportunity to state our support for those important commitments and for progress in the process of true reconciliation in Australia. I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MR MILLIGAN (Yerrabi) (12.16): I thank the Greens and Mr Rattenbury for bringing this motion to the Assembly today. This is a significant year for the Indigenous community. It has been 50 years since the 1967 national referendum,