Category Archives: Reconciliation

Thursday recommended site of the week: 1


Yes, a new feature for this blog! (And easy to do too…) But really, do look. The screen shot is linked to this excellent site where you will find much more than just the bad news or the sensation of the day.


Last episode of SBS’s “First Australians” and a must see anthology

Last night The First Australians dealt with Mabo. I will confine myself to a positive note, having already blogged this very significant contribution to understanding the past of all of us in Australia. I thought I knew this episode’s material rather well, having read much about it at the time, but there is always something to learn. Last night I learned a great deal more about the particular culture Mabo belonged to, and I learned a great deal more about the man. All honour too to those elements of the Catholic Church that played such a vital role at that time, and continue to do so.

Nice to see that crowd of Indigenous Australians in Sydney in 1988 when many thousands from all over Australia descended on the city for the Bicentennial. I was in that crowd.


a memory of 1988

bookcover-sml An ideal companion to The First Australians is the recently published Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature edited by Anita Heiss and Peter Minter, with a preface by novelist Nicholas Jose. Check the link, as the site offers many extras.

A groundbreaking collection of work from some of the great Australian Aboriginal writers, the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Aboriginal Literature offers a rich panorama of over 200 years of Aboriginal culture, history and life.

‘This volume is extremely significant from an Indigenous cultural perspective, containing many works that afford the reader a treasured insight into the Indigenous cultural world of Australia.’  From the foreword by Mick Dodson

The cover picture is by Michael Riley, whose art I celebrated in August: Michael Riley: sights unseen.

In the preface Nicholas Jose writes:

This transformative survey of Aboriginal writing presents the stories and patterns of Australian culture and societies in new ways, foregrounding and celebrating Indigenous experience and expression. It introduces powerful and creative individual voices as it also reveals a history of struggle, suffering and strength. No doubt there are gaps and limitations. There are always more voices to be heard and other stories to be told. Yet in their gathering of literature the editors show that Aboriginal authors have created some of the best, most distinctive and most significant writing to come from this country.

That may seem hyperbolic, but to read this anthology is to be convinced of the truth of that, and to be encouraged that there is more to come.

I was taken with a final statement from the late Eddie Mabo, as reported in last night’s First Australians: the momentous events of the Mabo era not only set free Indigenous Australia, but also non-Indigenous Australia, because after that none of us ever again would be living a lie about who we are. That, I suspect, is the true spirit of reconciliation. Despite all the ups and downs of the last twenty years, despite all the problems that remain, that is, I believe, where we find ourselves and where we may find solutions for all of us.

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Posted by on November 3, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, Best read of 2008, challenge, generational change, History, Indigenous Australians, OzLit, reading, Reconciliation, Top read


If any doubted the rightness of the February 2008 Apology…

mp_adtrc_5 … they could have no doubts or reservations left after seeing tonight’s episode of The First Australians. I have mentioned this wonderful show twice before: here and here. Tonight we had stories from people still living who went through the trauma of forced separation, including Sue Gordon, who, you may recall, was close to the Howard government.

Tonight we were also told that a book of the series is to be published on the 1 November, and that the DVD will be available from Marcom very soon.


Relevance of Canada’s Apology to Australia’s

I could well relate to the feelings Canadians must have experienced as they witnesses the Apology to their Native Peoples, video posted in the VodPod on the right. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports: ‘We are sorry’.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had yet to utter a single word of Canada’s apology to former Indian residential schools students when the cheering began. Native drumming and shouts turned into loud, simultaneous clapping. Raw emotion bursting for an apology decades overdue. There were many smiles.
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Posted by on June 13, 2008 in Brendan Nelson, Canada, current affairs, events, human rights, humanity, Indigenous Australians, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, pluralism, Political, politics, Reconciliation


Quotes to savour from recent ABC programs

1. Barbara Blackman on Compass last Sunday:

Geraldine Doogue
Tell me about friendship. What — because it rolls off the tongue easily, but I think it’s more than that for you?
Barbara Blackman
Well I think friendship is the sharing of fun and profundities. And there’s a time when you meet someone, you meet them here and there and you have snippets of conversation and I will say to that person, “Please come out and have dinner with me, have a whole conversation,” I ask them, I give them your sort of interview, “Where do you come from? What do you believe?… And um, that’s a making of friendship. Or you might say, “Well, we haven’t got enough ground for friendship.” But I think once there’s that one-to-one depth of intimacy, then the friendship builds up on that.
Geraldine Doogue
Who are you likely not to be friends with? Who don’t you enjoy being friends with?
Barbara Blackman
People who want me to join in their bitterness and anger, and I won’t have a bar of it. Or at my age, a lot of people I’ve known when you say to them, I haven’t seen you, how are you getting on? They tell you all about all their grandchildren. I love my grandchildren but ah, you know I find they’re not letting you into their life, they’re giving you the mirror or the outside of their life.

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Posted by on April 1, 2008 in Australia, current affairs, humanity, Indigenous Australians, Reconciliation, TV


On listening and setting aside prejudices

Galarrwuy Yunupingu is an Indigenous leader of great stature. I have referred to him several times before. In today’s Sydney Morning Herald he argues that not all was bad, comparatively, in the days the Christian Missions were more involved in Aboriginal communities. Some will find that challenging, but he may well be right.

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On keeping an open mind on Indigenous Australia policy

I think it is very important not to rule certain things in or out on purely ideological grounds, a position that you will have noticed I have been developing here over the past year — especially since the Northern Territory Intervention. I do believe that Intervention was tainted by the previous government’s excessive reactivity to so-called political correctness, and also by excessive paternalism and unwillingness really to consult. Nonetheless, the Howard government was, after shameful neglect for a decade, confronting some real issues and not everything they did in response was bad.

That is what the Rudd government has clearly been considering, not pleasing everyone in so doing. On Australia Talks (ABC Radio National) last Monday was a very interesting discussion of some of these matters. At the moment you may also listen to the program or download it as a podcast.

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Posted by on March 6, 2008 in Australia and Australian, current affairs, generational change, Indigenous Australians, Kevin Rudd, Reconciliation


Howard’s end, and new beginnings…

I am looking forward to Four Corners next week.


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Posted by on February 16, 2008 in Australia and Australian, Brendan Nelson, current affairs, generational change, Indigenous Australians, John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Political, Reconciliation, right wing politics


Read Anita Heiss on 13 February

Dr Anita Heiss is from the Wiradjuri nation of central NSW. She is an author, poet, social commentator and cultural activist. Her post on the ANTaR blog is well worth reading.

February 13 2008 – An Apology and a new heart for Australia

Messages of ‘Sorry’ and ‘support’ started flooding in via sms and email on Monday. They reached a peak as the speeches ended yesterday morning and I stood amongst thousands on Parliamentary Hill, breathing in fresh air that was filled with hope, history, forgiveness and unity…

Blogged with Flock

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Posted by on February 15, 2008 in Australia and Australian, Indigenous Australians, Reconciliation


The day after

I have added the full version of the Apology speech to the VodPod on the right.

Perhaps the most significant thing to emerge yesterday was this:

coalition THE Federal Government and Opposition have agreed to form a “war cabinet” for indigenous policy, a recognition that yesterday’s apology was just the first step in addressing the social disadvantage plaguing Aboriginal Australia.

In a day that was both historic and controversial, the Opposition Leader, Brendan Nelson, accepted the offer from the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to form the joint policy commission as both apologised on behalf of the Parliament to the stolen generations.

It is believed to be the first such political union since World War II and one which will ensure political responsibility for indigenous policy would be more evenly spread.

Mr Rudd set his Government the following tasks: to provide every indigenous four-year-old in a remote community with early childhood education within five years; to halve the gap between white and black Australia in literacy, numeracy and literacy within a decade; to halve the infant mortality rates within a generation; and close the life expectancy gap. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 14, 2008 in Australia and Australian, events, generational change, History, Indigenous Australians, Kevin Rudd, Reconciliation


13 February 2008: just back from The Block in Redfern


Redfern Community Centre, The Block, 2007. Image from Redfern Oral History. Click for more.

At least 1,000 people stood in the pouring rain at Redfern’s famous Block and watched on the big screen as Kevin Rudd moved the motion of Apology. I would not have missed it for quids!

Next to me an Aboriginal woman in her thirties or forties, her tears blending with the rain.

Cheers and a standing ovation greeted Kevin Rudd’s speech.

cafe-cana.gifWe didn’t get to hear the middle section of Dr Nelson’s speech as at that point the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, was speaking to us live.

However, the symbolism near the end of Rudd and Nelson jointly presenting to the Speaker the gift from the Stolen Generations spoke to all our hearts.

Golden syrup and damper afterwards, and then a coffee for me on the way home at Cafe Cana.

William Yang was there at the Community Centre, and some people from church.

Big smiles from some little Aboriginal kids as I crossed Pitt Street and Redfern Street: “Look! He’s got a flag!”

A day truly to be treasured, long long anticipated and for a period the dread that it would never happen. But it has happened.

No more analysis today, no more commentary. The day is too good for that.

See Cheers, tears as Rudd says ‘sorry’.


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Excitement building in Redfern

I heard more today at South Sydney Uniting Church about what is happening here next Wednesday 13 February.

Events at the Redfern Community Centre start at 8 and continue all day, with another gathering at Redfern Park at 6pm. It is a shame that Redfern Park, currently mostly dug up as it is being rebuilt, along with Redfern Oval, is not available for the day’s activities, as that would have been a neat closing of the circle that began with Paul Keating’s Redfern speech in 1992.

It promises to be a very memorable day.

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Posted by on February 10, 2008 in Australia, events, Indigenous Australians, Kevin Rudd, Reconciliation, South Sydney Uniting Church



I’m with Cathy rather than Keith

Apology is right thing to do: Cathy

CATHY Freeman finds it hard to articulate why her people need an apology, but deep down she knows it’s the right thing to do.

“I am not going to try and break down the reasons why an apology should be given,” she tells The Weekend Australian. “But in my heart I feel there is a real need for it.

“I have not studied the claims for compensation, so I don’t feel I can comment on that at this stage until I have distilled more information.

“But saying sorry will mean so much to so many people. It is going to be a really proud moment for us.

“For my family, it allows some kind of healing and forgiveness to take place where there is less anger and bitterness in the hearts of people. It takes away the pain. We will never forget, but this allows us to forgive.”

For Freeman, the apology to the Stolen Generations, to be delivered by Kevin Rudd on behalf of parliament next week, will be very personal.

Since stepping away from the track, she has been on an emotional journey into her own history, trawling through government archives.

And what she has learned has been painful: how her mother, a member of the Stolen Generations, was refused permission to visit her parents at Christmas; how her great-great-grandfather fought for Australia in World War I but, as an Aborigine, was never paid for his service and returned, not a hero, but a slave.

The discoveries have only strengthened her feeling that an apology is not only necessary, but decades overdue…

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Australian Poem: 2008 series #6 — Henry Kendall

Now here is a poem I learned in primary school around 55 years ago!

The Last of His Tribe

HE crouches, and buries his face on his knees,
    And hides in the dark of his hair;
For he cannot look up to the storm-smitten trees,
    Or think of the loneliness there—
    Of the loss and the loneliness there.

The wallaroos grope through the tufts of the grass,
    And turn to their coverts for fear;
But he sits in the ashes and lets them pass
    Where the boomerangs sleep with the spear—
    With the nullah, the sling and the spear.

Uloola, behold him! The thunder that breaks
    On the tops of the rocks with the rain,
And the wind which drives up with the salt of the lakes,
    Have made him a hunter again—
    A hunter and fisher again.

For his eyes have been full with a smouldering thought;
    But he dreams of the hunts of yore,
And of foes that he sought, and of fights that he fought
    With those who will battle no more—
    Who will go to the battle no more.

It is well that the water which tumbles and fills,
    Goes moaning and moaning along;
For an echo rolls out from the sides of the hills,
    And he starts at a wonderful song—
    At the sound of a wonderful song.

And he sees, through the rents of the scattering fogs,
    The corroboree warlike and grim,
And the lubra who sat by the fire on the logs,
    To watch, like a mourner, for him—
    Like a mother and mourner for him.

Will he go in his sleep from these desolate lands,
    Like a chief, to the rest of his race,
With the honey-voiced woman who beckons and stands,
    And gleams like a dream in his face—
    Like a marvellous dream in his face?

Henry Kendall Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on February 8, 2008 in Australia, Indigenous Australians, OzLit, poets and poetry, Reconciliation


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