Treaty the next step to true reconciliation
ONLY in acknowledging our past and legislating a treaty can reconciliation be accomplished and have all Australians move forward together, Kerry Blackman says.
This year's theme for Reconciliation Week is In This Together and it could not align more with Gidarjil Development Corporation's general manager's vision for the future.
Dr Blackman said there were four major events in this country's history and it was time for the fifth to be the legislating of a treaty.
"There's a timeline of events in this country. In 1788 our country was brutally colonised, our culture was smashed and we were dispossessed of our land," he said.
"In 1967 there was a referendum to recognise Aboriginal people as citizens in their own country.
"In 2000, which I was a part of because I was on the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, a million people walked across Sydney Harbour Bridge in the name of reconciliation."
Dr Blackman said there was a 10-year bipartisan process with both major political parties to come out the other end with a document of reconciliation.
He said the report, Australian's Challenge was processed with six recommendations, the sixth being the Commonwealth parliament enacting legislation, to effectively unite all Australians by way of an agreement or treaty through which unresolved issues of reconciliation could be resolved.
Rather than the report "gathering dust" in Canberra, Dr Blackman said the fifth step towards reconciliation was a treaty, enabling all Australians to "own our past and history so we can own our future together".
He said without it, reconciliation was empty.
"Reconciliation is about, you've got the offender and the offended, that has to be recognised and there has to be a true repentance around the past and the history - so we can both own it together both black and white … then we can truly unite Australia and truly be in this together and walk together, work together, do business together, develop ideas together, talk together to continue dialogue together to make Australia and especially our region, a fair and just society for all."
Dr Blackman said the pandemic had demonstrated how easy it was for the government to enact legislation, from employment and health issues, and they could legislate a treaty without a plebiscite or referendum.
"It's the right thing to do," he said.
Without compensation or reparation for the land that was taken in colonisation, he said a treaty was only way this could be addressed.
"Native Title confronted all the myths. It's not about taking people's frontyards, backyards, their freehold; Native Title stands alone where it still exists over Crown land, national parks, reserve land, allocated Crown land, and there has to be some sort of compensatory recompense to address the disparity and the inequality," he said.
To the non-Aboriginal people who say "well, we're not responsible", Dr Blackman concurred. He said it was the government which have to "front up and own up to confronting the most unresolved issue in this country".
Dr Blackman said Australia was an ancient, beautiful country and both black and white Australians needed to work together to keep it that way.
Rather than the government doing things for indigenous people or to indigenous people, he said it was about moving forward with indigenous people.