“I am a descendant of a once proud tribe from Central Australia – the Arrernte people. Today we number very few and own nothing. We cringe like dogs at the prospect of the ‘White backlash’. We pray eternally that the White authority structure will not turn on us and impede what little progress we have made. We ask for land rights with tongue in cheek knowing full well in our hearts that the land belonged to us in the first instance. We stagger and stumble into each other in confusion when our identity … is contested and thus allow ourselves to be moulded by others. Our land, our pride and our future has been taken away from us and our people buried in unmarked graves. We wander through Australian society as beggars. We live off the crumbs of the white Australian table and are told to be grateful. This is what Australia Day means to Aboriginal Australians. We celebrate with you but there is much sadness in our joy. It is like dancing on your mother’s grave.”
(Charlie Perkins, freedom fighter)
The word ‘slavery’ is hidden in Australian history. And the egalitarian future, that the Apology promised, has not arrived. Aboriginal men are still imprisoned at rates greater than black South Africans during Apartheid. Children are removed from their families in numbers not seen since the Stolen Generations. No rescue boat is coming – we have to rescue ourselves. And the first step has got to be the empowering of Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal young people. With three Aboriginal people taking their own lives every week, we have a lot of work to do.