Yesterday was — I hope — a day that will shine brightly in Australia’s sometimes very sorry history

As this one did. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island friends are advised this post contains images and voices of people who have passed.

In Cronulla in 1967 I voted YES in that referendum. It was the first year that I had the vote too.

27 May 1967, Aboriginal activist Faith Bandler pictured at Sydney Town Hall where people were voting in a referendum on whether to give Aboriginal people the right to vote on…. A sweeping majority of Australians, more than 10-1, voted in favour of the referendum on Aboriginal franchise — the biggest ‘YES” vote in the history of Commonwealth referenda.
[Photo by George Lipman » Fairfax Archives]

I met her twenty years later at a Politics in the Pub night at the Harold Park Hotel in Sydney. Had quite a chat with her. Lovely person.

For many of us, especially me, 1988 brought revelation and reflection. I marched with these people on Australia Day 1988:

Promises were made that year, and while there was progress one major promise was not kept.

Another great moment. I missed this one, though I lived not far away!

Challenges upon challenges remained — but there was also progress.

I was in this crowd at The Block in Redfern in February 2008:

13 February 2008: just back from The Block in Redfern

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.

We 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.

Yes there have been problems and reverses since then — many disappointments, wrong paths taken, targets not attained. But there were many who dared to hope and to find ways to make the dream of reconciliation a reality. The great meeting at Uluru was one such rime.

And yesterday at the Garma Festival our Prime Minister spoke words of hope but also of a practicable plan. A great day.

“Do you support an alteration to the Constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?”

YES! YES! YES!

Exactly as I supported in 1967 in the first referendum I could vote in the proposition made there. As did almost every person in Australia! The Prime Minister did address the doubts of those who say they are tired of mere symbolism — which includes quite a few conservatives both “white” and Indigenous. Essentially he said walking and chewing gum at the same time is perfectly possible, that working towards a Voice to Parliament does not preclude reforms that have practical impacts on lives. In fact, a Voice would ensure that such practical reforms are more likely to be better targeted as a result of a Voice.

“Respectfully, purposefully we are seeking to secure support for the question and the associated provisions in time for a successful referendum, in this term of parliament.

“If not now, when.” Mr Albanese said.

The PM is also calling on the Opposition and the cross-bench to embrace the proposal and throw their support behind the government.

Let me share one comment that just appeared on ABC Online:

Weeping with relief and hope for this beloved Country. RESPECT 🖤💛❤️ and LOVE

– Margaret Healy

YES! YES! YES!

RIP Archie Roach 1956-2022

Farewell to a great Australian

Today was a wonderful day for all Australians, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as we heard at the Garma Festival some great news from our Prime Minister. I have a post prepared on that which will appear here tomorrow. Much of my content on Facebook today also concerned that.

But when I turned to Facebook just a short time ago I saw this notice:

Archie Roach 

A STATEMENT BY AMOS AND EBAN ROACH ON BEHALF OF THE ROACH FAMILY

We are heartbroken to announce the passing of Gunditjmara (Kirrae Whurrong/Djab Wurrung), Bundjalung Senior Elder, songman and storyteller Archie Roach.

Archie passed, surrounded by his family and loved ones, at Warrnambool Base Hospital after a long illness. We thank all the staff who have cared for Archie over the past month.

Archie wanted all of his many fans to know how much he loves you for supporting him along the way.

We are so proud of everything our dad achieved in his remarkable life. He was a healer and unifying force. His music brought people together.

A private ceremony will follow.

We ask that the media please respect the family’s privacy.

Archie’s sons, Amos and Eban Roach, have given permission for Archie’s name, image and music to be used, so that his legacy will continue to inspire.

Photograph by Phil Nitchie

The Dusty Feet video does have a sync delay problem but for me — apart from the kids and the whole idea being so good — the joy of watching this is to study Archie Roach’s face as he reacts. So revealing of his spirit!

NAIDOC 2022 — the Awards — 3

Here are the incredible winners of the 2022 NAIDOC Awards! See the link for details.

Former world no.1 tennis player Ash Barty has been named the 2022 NAIDOC Person of the Year at the annual awards ceremony. Male Elder Award – Uncle Jack Charles. Female Elder Award – Aunty Lois Peeler. Education Award – Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Sportsperson Award – Buddy Franklin. Youth Award – Elijah Manis. Creative Talent Award – Lowell Hunter. Caring for Country and Culture Award – Walter Jackson. Innovation Award – Koori Mail and volunteers.

Here are the stories of three of them:

Where I grew up:

NAIDOC 2022 — the Awards — 2

I am right now on Dharawal Country. If you come in from The Shire via Heathcote you might see this sign.

Here are the incredible winners of the 2022 NAIDOC Awards! See the link for details.

Former world no.1 tennis player Ash Barty has been named the 2022 NAIDOC Person of the Year at the annual awards ceremony. Male Elder Award – Uncle Jack Charles. Female Elder Award – Aunty Lois Peeler. Education Award – Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Sportsperson Award – Buddy Franklin. Youth Award – Elijah Manis. Creative Talent Award – Lowell Hunter. Caring for Country and Culture Award – Walter Jackson. Innovation Award – Koori Mail and volunteers.

Here are the stories of three of them:

NAIDOC 2022 — the Awards — 1

Welcome to Dharawal Country. I am now in the southern part of that country looking towards Mount Keira, in the land of the Wodi Wodi people. I grew up in the northern part, the land of the Gweagal. One story passed on to me by my parents suggests strongly that one of my great-grandfathers was of the Dharawal or Yuin.

As I mentioned on 3 July we are currently celebrating NAIDOC Week 2022, with the Award Ceremony last Saturday night.

Here are the incredible winners of the 2022 NAIDOC Awards! See the link for details.

Former world no.1 tennis player Ash Barty has been named the 2022 NAIDOC Person of the Year at the annual awards ceremony. Male Elder Award – Uncle Jack Charles. Female Elder Award – Aunty Lois Peeler. Education Award – Professor Bronwyn Fredericks. Sportsperson Award – Buddy Franklin. Youth Award – Elijah Manis. Creative Talent Award – Lowell Hunter. Caring for Country and Culture Award – Walter Jackson. Innovation Award – Koori Mail and volunteers.

Here are the stories of three of them: