Speeches

NAIDOC Week

June 23, 2021

In Macquarie we see NAIDOC week as an opportunity to heal, and there is much healing to be done. Author of People of the River, Grace Karskens, describes the first recorded massacre of Aboriginal people by the military at the Battle of Richmond Hill in the Hawkesbury in 1795 as 'a surprise attack in darkness during which seven or eight people were shot down and everyone else fled in terror'. This is a history that should be told, and these are injustices that we need to acknowledge. The NAIDOC event organised by Merana in Richmond Park will as always be a beautiful bringing together of communities to heal.

In the Blue Mountains, as part of the Blue Mountains Police Area Command's recognition of NAIDOC week, the Aboriginal flag that I was privileged to provide will be placed in the foyer of Katoomba Police Station, a powerful symbol for our First Peoples of respect and recognition. Deadlee Gap Cultural Cafe in Lawson will, with COVID restrictions, also mark the week.

Reconciliation has many steps. The NAIDOC theme of healing country speaks to the need for substantive reform to resolve outstanding injustices. When Gough Whitlam returned the land to the Gurindji people in 1975, that was a step. When Paul Keating admitted, 'We committed the murders,' in his Redfern speech in 1992, that was a step. When Kevin Rudd apologised to the stolen generation in 2008, that was a step. An Albanese Labor government adopting the Uluru Statement from the Heart will also be a step.