13 February 2018
Today marks the 10th Anniversary of the National Apology to First Nation Peoples. I would like to sincerely and humbly encourage you all to pause for a minute of silence and reflection.
In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, said sorry on behalf of the government of Australia. Some of the most moving comments from the former PM’s speech were:
“I MOVE that today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
“We reflect on their past mistreatment. We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.
“It is not sentiment that makes history; it is our actions that make history.
“The truth is: a business as usual approach towards Indigenous Australians is not working. Most old approaches are not working. We need a new beginning….”
There are many great initiatives occurring across Australia, but sadly, 10 years on and all markers of disadvantage show that our First Nation Peoples still fare the worst when compared to other Australians.
The statistics are overwhelming:
- Infant mortality rates are 2-3 times higher
- Children and Young People are seven times more likely to receive child protection and support services
- Youth are 31 times more likely to be detained in a juvenile correctional facility
- Literacy and numeracy levels and the school completion gap remains 30 per cent lower
- Women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised for a violent act against them
- People are dying at least 20.7 years younger. That rate has not changed since 1989
- Full-time prisoner population is at 28 per cent
- Suicide rates are 2-5 times higher
- People aged 15-64 are 3 times more likely to be unemployed
As a mark of respect let us as an organisation reflect on those statistics which remain national challenges and on what part we can play in making a difference. Part of that difference is to help build responsible relationships that value, thrive and flourish with principles of respect and reciprocity, to work together in collaborative and meaningful ways, that will improve the health, wellbeing, education and economic empowerment of our First Nations Families. These are an essential element of all practical reconciliation solutions.
OzChild supports First Nation Peoples’ right of self-determination
Today, let’s all reflect, commemorate and move towards a mechanism that is underpinned by self-determination, that would work towards righting the wrongs and moving forward in a meaningful way for our First Nations People to have brighter futures.
After the recent marches on Australia Day, it is quite evident that many First Natiion Peoples are once again calling for a treaty as they believe it is THE best mechanism to provide meaningful dialogue for structural and systemic change…for their betterment.
As Kevin Rudd said 10 years ago:
“The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.”
On that note, perhaps a Treaty is the right place to start.
Find out more about OzChild’s Indigenous Services.