The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) joined all Australians today in paying tribute to former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
“Mr Whitlam was a Prime Minister who walked the talk for Aboriginal people, he brought us into the life of the nation when we had been shut out for so long,” NACCHO Chair, Justin Mohamed said.
“He elevated Aboriginal issues to national prominence by including land rights, human rights and anti-racism in his reform agenda.
“As part of this, his government instituted a policy of self-determination underpinned by community control and began supporting local community-controlled services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“Today, essential and successful services such as Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services remain at the core of community development providing healthcare, employment and education, and underpin Aboriginal Australians ongoing fight for self-determination.
“At a national level Mr Whitlam also oversaw the establishment of the first elected representative body for Aboriginal people, the National Aboriginal Consultative Committee.
“At a personal level, many Aboriginal people benefitted from his government’s broader reforms – such as those in higher education – which enabled Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to attend university, an achievement previously so far out of reach for many Aboriginal families.
“These changes transformed our country and we honour Mr Whitlam for his courage, commitment to justice and foresight.
“We would like to see his significant legacy continue,” said Mr Mohamed.