Friday, 6 July 2012

Speech - NAIDOC Family Fun Day

I begin by acknowledging the first Australians, on whose land we meet and whose cultures we celebrate as the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

Your cultures represent not just something great for Australia; they represent something great for the world. Be proud of everything your culture has achieved.

Is it good to be here at NAIDOC week?


Is it good to be here with Aunty Joan?


Is it good to be here to celebrate Aboriginal and Islander identity? Because it’s a fantastic identity.


I want to talk about three things and talk about them very quickly. One is pride, the other is confidence and the third is the future.

To every Aboriginal and Islander person here today, let me just say one thing. For those of us who look at the history going back thousands and tens of thousands of years.

We look at cave paintings;

We look at dance;

We look at song;

And we look at the dreaming.

This is a culture of which we all should be proud and you must be proud.


It is not just however in all that has gone before us as we stand in awe of the paintings of antiquity. It’s the pride that we also have and those of you have stood up and counted as leaders when it was hard to be a leader.

When you took the lead 100 years ago;

When you took the lead in the lead up to the ‘67 referendum;

When you took the lead in bringing together the Bringing them Home report;

And when you took the lead to be there on the day to celebrate and commemorate, finally the apology to Aboriginal Australians. Have pride in your leadership today as well.

I said I’d talk about pride and confidence.

When I look in the faces of young indigenous people today, and I travel this country a lot. I’ve seen them represent the good name of Australia in the councils of the world.

I meet them in every profession;

I see them at the doctor’s surgeries;

I see them leading our major professional firms;

I see them now in politics;

I see them running businesses.

My message to each and everyone one of you as proud indigenous Australians is ‐ have confidence in your future.

This is a great future.

I see it alive in the faces and the lives of so many of your number today and that number will grow into the tens of thousands and the hundreds of thousands of the future showing leadership for the entire Australian nation.

Have confidence for that future.

I said I’d speak about pride, I said I’d speak about confidence. Let me speak now about the future.

When I delivered the apology to Indigenous Australians and it took us 200 years to get there and I’m sorry for that. 200 years but we got there with an apology.

I said that an Apology to Indigenous Australians was not complete unless we closed the gap between Indigenous and non‐Indigenous Australians.

Our resolve for the future must be this: to close the gap in life expectancy;
To close the gap in aboriginal infant mortality;

To close the gap in the educational attainment of aboriginal children;

To close the gap in literacy, in numerous;

To close the gap in health opportunities;

To close the gap in employment;

To close the gap in housing;

And to close the gap to make us truly in name one family of Australians. That is our mission for the future.

But one final thing for the future as well. What we do and what we say is important. How we reflect that in the laws of this Commonwealth are equally important. That is why Constitutional recognition must happen and must happen now.

It was in 2008 following a 2020 summit that I said to the Australian people that we must begin the process of deep and sensitive consultations across the nation to frame correctly the question for a referendum to finally constitutional recognise the first Australians of this land.

That was 4 years ago. Much work has been done since then.

I acknowledge the work of my successor in doing that as well. The challenge now lies in how we bring this to pass. And I say this to all politicians of our land, whether they are Labor, Liberal, National Party, Greens, Democrats, Callithumpian, Upside Down Party, Back to Front Party, Inside Out Party.

Whoever you are in politics I say this: Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Islander Australians is too important to degenerate into a political bun fight.

Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians should unite us all to bring that question forward to people that as one people and with one voice we vote to bring about this change for us all. 

I thank you all.


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