Friday, December 03, 2004

Eight years later...

As I was watching Lateline on the ABC tonight I saw Pat Dodson who joined Michael Long (and Pat's brother Mick) in a meeting with the Prime Minister.

It reminded me of a meeting between two of the four men in May of 1996.

Having lived in the Top End for some time, I often had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Pat (and to a lesser degree Mick) through the NT Trades & Labor Council.

Most memorable was the emotional foreword Pat gave at The Inaugural Lingiari Lecture, delivered by Sir William Deane, (who was at the time) Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia at the invitation of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation in Darwin, on 22 August 1996 titled Some Signposts From Daguragu.

We had never before (or since) seen the Auditorium at the Northern Territory University (recently renamed Charles Darwin University) so overflowing with lovers of Lecture!

In a speech given at the National Press Club in Canberra on 28 November 1997, a few weeks before he was to finish his term as Chairperson of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation after six years at the helm, Pat Dodson had this to say about the Howard Government:
"In recent times we have seen that commitment from the parliament on reconciliation weaken and dim. It was a multi-party commitment to which the Government is no longer committed. The Government is no longer demonstrating the leadership required.
The Government chooses not to act on the pragmatic and practical recommendations of the Council's social justice package, despite a major consultation process with the Australian community;

It chooses not to apologise to the Stolen Generations despite the example of State and Territory parliaments, major church groups, and many thousands of individual Australians.

And now it has chosen not to act on the heart-felt cries for justice and fair dealing in its response to the Wik decision."

Tonight, eight years later, Pat is still an imposing figure.
Still generous.
Still wise.
Still optimistic.

Shame we can't say the same for John HoWARd.


Blogger weezil said...

Dodson & others are now getting behind HoWARd's 'mutual obligation' (work-for-the-dole) for the Aboriginal community.

Wise and optimistic?


8:38 pm  
Blogger suki said...

...or, with HoWARd's fourth term, and his eight year record of not caring enough about the past, present and future of indigenous communities to effect any real changes in their life outcomes, it could be seen as harm minimisation on the part of the elders.

8:01 am  
Blogger weezil said...


Work-For-The-Dole in Gulf Country:

* Roo counter
* Yellow-Peril-From-North spotter (50x more accurate than Jindalee)
* etc.

It's still just glorified sit-down money. No problems are solved. Healthcare will still suck and effective education remains a fond wish.

Call me when the life expectancy of Aboriginal men touches 50 years. Then I'll say the policy, whatever policy, worked.

Harm minimisation? Dragging out the status quo is not minimisation- it's continued victimisation.

No wonder there are voices like Murrandoo.


11:14 pm  
Blogger suki said...

CDEP was the first work for the dole project. Aboriginal people can write the book on CDEP and soul destroying work.
Years of the same impasse have brought no change.
In the nineties, the NT had a mandatory sentencing regime. During protests outside the courthouse for the enquiry into the death in custody of one such aboriginal man, what was as upsetting to the indigenous community was the non-indigenous reporters referring to the young man as an orphan. In western society he was.
In indigenous society, there is NO SUCH CONCEPT as an ORPHAN! This boy was connected to everyone and looked after by the community.

This tells me that we have to start with self-determination. Moreover, this should come from representatives of the community. Pat Dodson, Mick Dodson, Peter Yu and Noel Pearson are all in such positions.

1:36 am  

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