NATIONAL: On the eve of the 20th anniversary of Paul Keating’s famous Redfern speech, an Aboriginal elder from Central Australia says the country has learnt little.
In his stirring December 10, 1992 address on Aboriginal injustice, Mr Keating called on non-Aboriginal Australians to open their hearts and recognise they had dispossessed Aboriginal people and smashed their way of life.
On Thursday, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, an Aboriginal elder from the Utopia homelands, will reflect on the former prime minister’s words and the passage of time at a Sydney Human Rights forum.
Mrs Kunoth-Monks will tell the forum the Northern Territory Intervention is “a return to the colonial-style policies” Mr Keating spoke against, and that they have done enormous damage to her community.
“We have been traumatised by the NT Intervention,” she says in statement ahead of the event.
“I feel such pain for our young people, like my granddaughter, who like calves branded with an iron have been singled out as second class citizens when are trying to find their place in the world and build a bright future.”
Legislation passed federal parliament in June, under the banner “Stronger Futures”, to extend the intervention program for another decade.
The Howard government launched the emergency intervention in 2007.
There have been zero prosecutions since the program began.
Mrs Kunoth-Monks will call for the 10 year extension of the program to be reversed and decision-making power be returned to local remote Indigenous communities.
Ian Thorpe Fountain for Youth spokesman, Jeff McMullen, will also address the forum.
“The anniversary of that honest healing speech should compel all of us to examine our government’s enormous hypocrisy and double standards in caging Aboriginal people as second class citizens,” he says in the statement.
“The Stronger Futures laws mean an Aboriginal child born in 2007 will spend their first fifteen years officially being singled out for discrimination endured by no other group in Australia.”
The forum is at Tom Mann Theatre, Sydney at 6.30pm.