NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Referendum #Ulurustatement : Indigenous campaigners awarded Australia Day honours for role in 1967 referendum Ruth Hennings, Diana Travis, Alfred Neal and Dulcie Flower honoured for service to their communities

 ” Ruth Henning, Diana Travis, and Alfred Neal were awarded the medal of the order of Australia (OAM) on Saturday for their service to their communities and work on the 1967 referendum.

Aunty Dulcie Flower, who was granted the OAM in 1992, was made a member of the order of Australia (AM) for her work on the referendum, her role in the establishment of the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, and her work as a nurse.

From the Guardian 26 January 2019

Alfie Neal and Ruth Wallace Hennings – brave the tropical rain at Yarrabah where they sat and planned the vote for Australia’s indigenous population. Picture: Brian Cassey

 ” More than 50 years ago, Ruth Hennings sat with Alfred Neal day after day under the “Tree of Knowledge” in Yarrabah, near Cairns, plotting the protest movement across Queensland’s conservative north that helped bring the beginnings of equality for ­Aboriginal Australians.

It was from there that the mission-raised pair led the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League, in its struggle to win support for the successful 1967 referendum, enabling laws for indigenous people and including them in the census.

The only survivors of the league, Ms Hennings, 85, and Mr Neal, 94, reunited yesterday on the beach near where the tree stood after learning they — had been awarded Order of Australia Medals for services to the indigenous community.”

From the Australian 26 January 2019

Campaigners mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum on 24 May 2017, including Alfred Neal, left, and Dulcie Flower, second right, who have both been recognised in the 2019 Australia Day honours. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

On the day of the 1967 referendum, Ruth Hennings was handing out “vote yes” flyers at a local school in Cairns.

It was the first sign she had that the campaign to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were included in the census, and to give the federal government power to make laws specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, had won the support of a majority of Australian citizens.

“Nearly everyone who was there, they all said good luck and hoped everything would turn out good,” Hennings said. “So they gave me a good feeling of ‘it will change’.”

When the votes were counted, that feeling was confirmed: 91% of Australians voted yes.

The next step, Hennings said, was a plan to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were recognised in the constitution as the First Peoples of Australia.

See Ruths story Brisbane Times

Fifty-two years later that still has not happened and the Uluru Statement, which sets out a path forward, was rejected by the federal government.

Hennings is 85 now, a celebrated elder. On Saturday she was one of four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people honoured for their role in the 1967 referendum, and for a lifetime of other community work.

She was a founding member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League in Cairns, which began in 1958, and attended meetings while working as a cleaner around the town for 15 shillings a day.

She told Guardian Australia constitutional recognition was still badly needed.

“We really need to get a body together where we can talk in one voice,” she said. “All of these things have been happening, money is being thrown around, and there’s no result … the main thing is getting that constitution right and making sure that we are all one people, we are all one Australia.”

Travis was just 19 when her grandfather Sir Douglas Nicholls, one of the most revered figures in Victoria, drove her to Canberra to take part in the referendum alongside her heroes: Charlie Perkins, Chicka Dixon, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, and Faith Bandler.

“They were all wonderful leaders, wonderful workers, focused and aware, so I was just in my joy being there, mingling and being amongst them all in Canberra,” she said.

Travis is now involved in native title work as a Dja Dja Wurrung claimant and a member of the Dhuudora native title group, and is an active participant in the Victorian treaty process.

“It may be a different time now but I still believe that there’s good people out there,” Travis said. “Some of them may not understand, but I just say: listen please, listen to us, talk to us. We’re not targeting you, it’s all about the government.”

She said she was in “two or three minds” about accepting the Australia Day honour, both because she does not support the celebration of Australia Day on 26 January – she will spend the morning in protest in Melbourne, as she does every year – and because she was not sure she had done enough to earn it.

Both Hennings and Travis said the singular focus and united purpose behind the 1967 referendum campaign was absent from modern reform debates.

“At that time we all had that one goal,” Henning said. “We all knew what we wanted, we were focused and willing and happy and we had FCAATSI (Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders) … But today there’s nothing.”

 

Prime Minister @TurnbullMalcolm and @BillShortenMP opening #NRW2017 #1967Referendum #Mabo25 by taking a @TheLongWalkOZ to #dreamtimeattheG

 

” But to describe ‘67 as a sudden awakening of our nation to these injustices, minimizes the sacrifices of those families who had survived since European arrival and then contributed year upon year into seeking equality of opportunity.

This is a story of resilience. It is a story of survival. It is a story of persistence and courage.

Every step of the journey to 1967 was built on the last.

It was a campaign that took decades of relentless agitation and advocacy, setbacks and sacrifice, courage and resilience.

So in 2017 we stand on the shoulders of those giants. ‘

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull opening #NRW2017 Melbourne

Download Speech PDF or read in full below

Prime Minister Speech 1967 Ref

 ” But even though we make this progress none of us can really pretend for one minute can we ?.

That racism has vanished from the game – or indeed from the country that we love. Years of legalised and institutionalised prejudice still cast a long shadow, paternalism and neglect are difficult habits hard to break.

So much of our historical narrative needs revisiting and discussion in order to reform and we see that shadow of inequality and diminished opportunity even now in housing, in education, in health, in family violence.

Think about in health, we still have too many of our First Australian Mothers losing babies, or dying in childbirth, we have even as we sit here looking at our progress, First Australians going blind because of a third-world disease We see it in our justice system – where young Aboriginal men are more likely, at the age of 18 to go to jail than to go to university.

As moving as this week of milestones has been, as magnificent as tonight’s game will surely be – I believe the best way our generation can honour the previous generation is by living up to the example that we’ve heard about today.

That means tackling the nitty-gritty of practical disadvantage, it means finding common ground.

Bill Shorten opening #NRW2017 Melbourne

Download Speech PDF or read in full below

Bill Shorten Speech 1967 Referendum

Watch Opening Ceremony #Dreamtime at the G

Or HERE online

VAHS and Gippsland ACCHO Healthy Lifestyle Teams at Long Walk Launch

SEE LINK to Album

Part 1 Prime Minister

I acknowledge that we are here on the land of the Wurundjeri people whose country extends to the north of the Birrarung, and the Boonwurrung people whose country extends to the south.

I pay my deepest respects to them, and their elders past and present.

And I acknowledge the campaigners of the 1967 Referendum, including here today Uncle Syd Jackson and Mr Jason Oakley, and the plaintiffs in the great Mabo litigation, whose 25th anniversary we are commemorating this week as well.

View new Reconciliation Week TV AD HERE

I’m joined by my Parliamentary colleagues Nigel Scullion, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Ken Wyatt MP, the Minister for Indigenous Health. Ken has actually just left us and said he’s got to go and meet with the AMA – but I think it’d be more entertaining here.

It is good to be joined by Bill Shorten, the Leader of the Opposition.

And of course, the AFL – thank you for the extraordinary leadership you show. 700 AFL players, Richard, I was told a moment ago, Richard and Gill – 82 Indigenous players out of 700. What a great achievement.

Or Download this graphic as a PDF for sharing

AFLPA-Indigenous-Player-Map-2017

Tanya, thank you for your great speech and your great leadership. Justin Mohamed – CEO, Reconciliation Australia and Tom Calma – Co Chair. And so many dear friends and distinguished guests.

I want to thank for the Welcome to Country – Aunty Zeta and Aunty Carolyne. Thank you so much for welcoming us to your country.

And Aunty Pam – great speech and deadly shoes. Fantastic! So good.

NACCHO/ VAHS ACCHO file photo

And what an amazing performance from the Torres Strait, from the Eip Karem Beizam group, and of course the dancers and the singers, Shellie Morris and Dhapanbal Yunupingu. This is a great occasion.

Thank you all for joining us here today to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum, the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision, and the start of National Reconciliation Week 2017.

On this day exactly fifty years ago, millions of Australians had their names marked off on the electoral roll, stepped into a polling booth, just minutes later walked out, and united made history.

Their overwhelming support at the Referendum expanded Commonwealth powers to make laws relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and enabled all First Australians, who had always been here, as Chicka Dixon just reminded us to be counted as part of the official population.

1967 was a crucial point in Australia’s reconciliation journey, where we consciously moved from exclusion to inclusion, from injustice and pain, towards healing, and where we recognised we were greater united than divided.

For our First Australians had not been treated with the respect they deserved, with the respect you deserved, with laws and regulations controlling, limiting and diminishing your lives.

Generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, a number of whom are here today, who were removed from their families and communities because of the colour of their skin. We acknowledge that this removal separated children from their families, their lands, languages and cultures – cared for by their ancestors for more than 50,000 years.

Indigenous Diggers, returning from war having defended our freedoms, democracy and the rule of law, were denied the full rights of citizenship for which they had so bravely fought.

For our nation’s birth certificate, the Constitution, had declared a Federation from six separate colonies, but had excluded our First Australians – the very people who have cared for this land from time out of mind.

But to describe ‘67 as a sudden awakening of our nation to these injustices, minimizes the sacrifices of those families who had survived since European arrival and then contributed year upon year into seeking equality of opportunity.

This is a story of resilience. It is a story of survival. It is a story of persistence and courage.

Every step of the journey to 1967 was built on the last.

It was a campaign that took decades of relentless agitation and advocacy, setbacks and sacrifice, courage and resilience.

So in 2017 we stand on the shoulders of those giants.

And we are honoured to be joined here by some of the ‘67 campaigners and Mabo plaintiffs and their amilies.

They too stood on the shoulders of the giants that came before them.

In 1925 Worimi Fred Maynard established the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association with the logan “One God, One People, One Destiny”.

In 1938, Yorta Yorta man William Cooper, Bill Ferguson and Jack Patten organised the ‘Day of Mourning’ n Australia Day, as well as the indefatigable Margaret Tucker.

There were giants like Bill Onus, and Ngemba woman Pearl Gibbs.

With each step building on the last, Pastor Doug Nicholls succeeded Cooper as head of the Australian Aboriginals League

After a great career of football and politics Doug was the first Aboriginal person to be knighted, despite been excluded from the change rooms by his team mates simply because of his Aboriginality.

It is fitting the Sir Doug Nicholls Round will be played at the ‘G’ today, to recognise, as we do every year,his contribution to football and the spirit of reconciliation which he embodied.

Here in Victoria, the roots of the referendum movement trace right back to the early 19th century, when William Barak and Simon Wonga, led the Kulin nation in their struggle for their land and their culture

So many champions over so many years – each stream building into the river wide enough to embrace a nation and change its constitution.

Jessie Street, Bert Groves, Joyce Clague, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Chicka Dixon, Dulcie Flower, ShirleyPeisley, Pastor Frank Roberts, Laurie Moffatt, Joe McGuiness.

The Freedom Riders, led by the young Charles Perkins.

Too many to name, these are just a few – but we honour them all today.

On a Monday night in May 1957, thousands of Sydneysiders converged on the Town Hall to watch a documentary that laid bare the harsh reality of life for remote Indigenous communities. It revealed a nation divided.

This was the night Faith Bandler and Pearl Gibbs launched their petition to demand a better deal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Their campaign began with a couple of thousand signatures and ended just over 10 years later with 90.77 per cent of the population voting ‘yes’ for change.

The campaigners had an unswerving belief that every step would move us closer together as Australians.

So to everyone who, over decades, worked with and for the groups that built and grew the case for the referendum, today we say again thank you.

For the many hundreds of thousands of First Australians who felt the ground beneath them shift thatday, who felt their horizons open up and their status as citizens at long last enshrine the rights it should -the 27th of May 1967 remains the turning point.

And it’s why this week I announced a $138 million education package to further enable the economic and social inclusion for which the ’67 campaigners fought and for which our government is committed to continue and develop and grow.

Every element of our policy is focused on that economic empowerment, the foundation of which as we know, and Syd and I were just discussing this a momentago, is education.

‘67 saw Australians come together in a moment of national unity to properly acknowledge the identity, the culture, the history, the citizenship of our First Australians.

This week we also celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the High Court’s decision to uphold native title rights in the hard-won Mabo case.

The five plaintiffs were fighters for their spiritual and cultural survival – Eddie Mabo, Father Dave Passi, Sam Passi, James Rice and Celuia Mapo Salee.

Each step was built on the last, and importantly, because of the ‘67 change, the Commonwealth could create, could enact the Native Title Act.

Today, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights and interests in the land have been formally recognised in over 40 per cent of Australia’s land mass.

The number of determinations under the Native Title Act now outweighs the number of claims currently registered.

Now, this week has seen us look towards another step, with the Referendum Council’s National Convention at Uluru.

As I know better than most, changing the Australian Constitution is not easy. 44 referendums, only 8 successes.

The last remotely controversial amendment to be approved was in 1946.

Indeed, history would indicate that to succeed not only must there be overwhelming support, but minimal, or at least tepid, opposition.

Fundamental to our Constitution is the supremacy of Parliament underneath the Constitution.

Our laws are made by the House of Representatives and the Senate – each democratically elected, with each member and senator representing both their constituency and above all their nation.

The campaigners of 67’s success inspired Neville Bonner to join the Liberal Party and run for Parliament.

He brought his voice to the Senate in 1971 and now there are five First Australians in our Parliament

including the first Aboriginal Minister – Ken Wyatt who was the first Aboriginal man to serve in the

House of Representatives and across the aisle Linda Burney the first Aboriginal woman so to serve in the House of Representatives. And of course in the Senate Pat Dodson, Malarndirri McCarthy and Jacqie Lambie

We thank the delegates at Uluru for their work which will now be considered by the Referendum Council which will in turn advise the Opposition Leader and myself and through us the Parliament.

See NACCHO Friday Post #Ulurustatement

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #treaty : #Uluru Summit calls for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution

It is the Parliament’s duty, and its alone, to propose changes to the Constitution.

But the Constitution cannot be changed by Parliament – only the Australian people can do that.

No political deal, no cross party compromise, no leaders’ handshake can deliver constitutional change.

To do that a constitutionally conservative nation must be persuaded that the proposed amendments respect the fundamental values of the Constitution and will deliver precise changes, clearly understood, that benefit all Australians.

A Referendum will demand politicians to lead, and we will, but a successful campaign for Constitutional

Recognition must ask Australians to acknowledge the humanity of their neighbour – their fellow Australian – and harness support for the proposal with as much resolute solidarity and unity as the campaigners of ’67 did 50 years ago.

Today I believe all Australians acknowledge what we know is true – that prior to European settlement our First Australians spoke hundreds of languages, cared for this country, your song lines crossed the entire nation, your languages carried sacred knowledge, your stories of creation were passed on from generation to generation, and when Aboriginal people lost those songs, those languages, that knowledge, we all lost. We all lost.

But we also acknowledge that despite so much loss, much was saved and you are, we are restoring and recovering languages and cultures, and in doing so, reuniting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and all Australians, with the most ancient human cultures on earth.

Your contribution is not static or frozen in time and we’ve been reminded of that today. It is sewn into the fabric of our modern society and our modern economy, and as Prime Minister I will continue to acknowledge and do all I can to ensure that being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander means to be successful, to achieve, to have big dreams and high hopes, and to draw strength from your identity as an Indigenous person in this great country.

Charles Perkins said that ‘If he wouldn’t have done it, others would have.’

Perhaps he was right. But to those who have championed rights and equality for First Australians over our history, and those who continue that work today, you have never taken progress for granted and for that we thank you.

Your culture, our culture, is old and new, as dynamic as it is connected – on the highest tree top the new flower of the morning draws its being from deep and ancient roots.

Now it is up to us, together and united, to draw from the wisdom and the example of those we honour today and so inspired bring new heights and brighter blooms to that tree of reconciliation which protects and enriches us all.

Thank you very much.

Part 2

THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum and the 25th Anniversary of the Mabo Decision.

Good afternoon everybody.

I too, would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land upon which we meet,

I pay my respects to the traditional owners and indeed all elders past, present and future.

The Prime Minister very graciously acknowledged a lot of the guests here so I won’t go through the same list but simply echo the Prime Ministers words but I do want to say that as we celebrate anniversaries of half a century ago and a quarter of a century ago, we should also always acknowledge that for over 500 centuries – this is, was and always will be, Aboriginal land.

It would be remiss of me and perhaps even fool-hardy not to acknowledge, not only Auntie Carol and Auntie Zeta but Auntie Pam and perhaps not prominent on her CV but she and I would work together in a law firm — and if you could guess, for anyone who knows Pam she was in charge of nearly everything.

But I have to say Pam, when you spoke about your father, you gave us all a gift, one of the great sadnesses when a parent passes is that you can’t always reconstruct every conversation but what you did Pam, is when you described the folded chairs and the card table and the thermos and the sandwiches and the campaigning, what you did Pam, is you gave us the gift of an inkling of what it must have been like to have him as your father and what a strong man he was so thank you very much Pam.

I also should of course acknowledge the great campaigners of 67, the plaintiffs in Mabo and their proud families, although not all live with us, we are the beneficiaries of their legacy.

We are, I believe, more open and a more open and diverse country than we were 50 years ago.

More honest about our past, more confident about our future.

But this is not just because of the passage of time or mere good luck. It’s because of the people that we’re acknowledging today, there is inspiration in someone’s victory…there are lessons and one thing which I take from what we’ve heard today is that there’s no such thing as passive progress.

Progress is always a struggle.

No-one gave the 67 campaigners anything – it was earned, it was fought for. No-one gave Eddie Mabo and his fellow plaintiffs anything before he started and it wasn’t just contesting the law, the fact that these Plaintiffs believe the Australian justice system which, to be fair and accurate, hadn’t initially been the best friend of First Australians in the previous two hundred years, the fact that they contested it took a great strength of character.

No-one gave the Stolen Generations anything and this week is the twentieth anniversary of the Bringing them Home report indeed, for the Stolen Generations their very existence was arrogantly dismissed.

The inquiry described the stolen generations as tantamount to genocide but you and the stolen generation faced Australia, to make us look at the reality of children taken away from their mothers, from their country, from their families and their culture.

It is very difficult to bring the hard truth of history home and – at long last – we did say

Sorry.

And friends, as we celebrate I’m always conscious of that tension in politics and in life, how much do you talk about the good news and how much do you acknowledge the bad news, how much do you say and admire our progress and how much do we look at the journey we still have to go, it is that truth telling which I still think confronts us now.

We salute the outstanding accomplishments of our fellow Australians who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Australians.

I think of artists and authors and film-makers, I think of fashion-designers, I think of scientists and lawyers and school-teachers, I think of sports men and women.

But we also know, as we admire the progress that real reconciliation demands of us all especially those of us privileged to be in positions of leadership, it demands truth-telling.

Acknowledging that we have further to go, I believe, does not diminish what has been achieved, in fact it honours it and enhances previous struggle. Tonight, a packed crowd will be at the Sir Doug Nicholls Round watching two great teams and like Shaun Burgoyne last night and Buddy Franklin, Shane Edwards will proudly wear the 67 number tonight.

It is isn’t it a long way from when Doug Nicholls was driven from Carlton because of the colour of his skin, when All Australian Polly Farmer was the target of on field abuse each week.

When, my great friend Pat Dodson was playing for the Monivae Firsts in 1965 and 66, he describes himself as a Collingwood six-footer, he wasn’t counted as an Australian, although he captained that team.

And just like Rugby League – AFL is different and I think better, because of generations of Aboriginal stars who have won their admirers with their brilliance and changed minds with their courage.

Nicky Winmar lifting up his jumper and showing the Victoria Park crowd where I once worked, that he was black and proud.

Michael Long who made his stand on Anzac Day 1995. Adam Goodes – unshakeable in his dignity, unmoving in his strength… such a contrast to the cowards who booed him, hiding their prejudice in the crowd and so many other champions.

It’s ironic now, I don’t think anyone could imagine AFL without our Indigenous stars and I congratulate the leadership of successive leaders of the AFL including today Gillon McLachlan and Richard Goyder.

But even though we make this progress none of us can really pretend for one minute can we ?.

That racism has vanished from the game – or indeed from the country that we love. Years of legalised and institutionalised prejudice still cast a long shadow, paternalism and neglect are difficult habits hard to break.

So much of our historical narrative needs revisiting and discussion in order to reform and we see that shadow of inequality and diminished opportunity even now in housing, in education, in health, in family violence.

Think about in health, we still have too many of our First Australian Mothers losing babies, or dying in childbirth, we have even as we sit here looking at our progress, First Australians going blind because of a third-world disease We see it in our justice system – where young Aboriginal men are more likely, at the age of 18 to go to jail than to go to university.

We see it right now in the unacceptable record numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders growing-up in out-of-home care: struggling at school during the day, battling trauma and disconnection at night.

As moving as this week of milestones has been, as magnificent as tonight’s game will surely be – I believe the best way our generation can honour the previous generation is by living up to the example that we’ve heard about today.

That means tackling the nitty-gritty of practical disadvantage, it means finding common ground. Yesterday, delegates from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations said:

“In 67 we were counted, in 2017, we seek to be heard”. It is a powerful message about unfinished business in our country.

On behalf of all Australians, I want to thank the attendees who gathered at Uluru, the hundreds of Aboriginal people who have taken part in 12 dialogues around the nation.

And the thousands of people who have provided written submissions to the Referendum Council. The Referendum Council now has the task of drawing on all of these contributions – and providing a set of recommendations to the Prime Minister, myself and indeed the whole parliament, at the end of June.

It is complex and important work: we owe the members time and those who participated the time and the space to finish their work.

And we owe them an open mind on the big questions – the form recognition takes, on treaties, on changes required to the constitution and on the best way to fulfil the legitimate and long-held aspiration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for a meaningful, equal place in our democratic system.

I’ve had a number of constructive conversations with our Prime Minister including indicating, as far as I am concerned a sincere desire for bipartisanship and a sincere desire to make progress on this issue.

It is important that we combine Government and Opposition to try to work cooperatively, I’m sure we will have further dialogue, both of us will need to think hard, talk to colleagues and the Referendum Council and broadly with the community.

I do not doubt the size of the mountain that we have to climb.

But for any Australian looking for inspiration, I would say ‘look to our history’.

Look at the spirit of ‘67 or the legend of Eddie Mabo.

Look to the strength and the story of the Gurindji at Wave Hill.

Look to the brilliance of Doug Nicholls.

The lesson of Charlie Perkins and the Freedom Riders.

Look to the legacy of those Aboriginal service men and women who have served, fought and died for a country that up to that point didn’t even count them in its census.

Look at: Faith Bandler or Pearl Gibbs or Chicka Dixon, Joe McGinnis or Charlie Perkins and Jessie Street and many others.

And all those other heroes famous and perhaps not so famous who went door-to-door, shopping centre to shopping centre, signature by signature. I said earlier that no one gave these warriors of change, anything. Whatever they have won, they had earned but in fact they gave Australia a gift, 50 years ago.

They gave Australia a gift 25 years ago. They gave us the gift of hope – they gave us the gift of imagination. And it’s now it is our test to measure up.

I am a student of history, I look back and I wonder, what were people thinking, what were the arguments and the tensions and the means, what was going through their minds and what was going through their hearts.

It is incredibly, I think, encouraging that back in 1967 the parliament was full of white men, many born at the turn of the 20th Century, they found common ground to support a Yes vote.

The government didn’t fund a ‘No’ case in 1967.

If those men then, of a certain background and disposition could find the humility to admit that they were wrong, if they could find that wisdom within themselves to challenge their preconceptions and decide what was right…

If they could imagine then, in their circumstances a more equal time for Australia. Then are we in this generation up to it now?

Surely we can imagine a reconciled Australia?

Surely we can imagine an Australia where the gap is actually closed, where justice is colour-blind?.

Surely we can imagine an Australia where every Aboriginal child can grow up healthy, can get the best possible education, equal to every other child and to not have to be separated from their families.

Surely we can imagine now – and deliver now – a future:

Where Aboriginal mothers no longer live with the anxiety that their child could be taken from them.

Where the last stubborn stains of persistent racism are removed, forever – from our not only our hearts and our language but from our laws.

Surely we can deal honestly and decently with issues of reparations, recovery and reconnection where we are capable of having the important conversation about meaningful recognition, about treaties about post-constitutional settlement.

Surely we can imagine a set of circumstances just as there are Aboriginal AFL Champions that will one day have a Aboriginal Prime Minister or an Aboriginal President of our Republic.

But what is the most important, and I think the challenge for us is, for us in particular privilege who have some say in the debate of the day, is the road will be hard and it’s going to require the best thought and the best cooperation.

What it’s going to recognise is this, are we capable of imagining an Australia, where our first Australians are equal to all other Australians because I can already imagine that when our first Australians are equal to all other Australians then we are all better Australians.

Thank you very much.