Taking a Stand: Land Rights to Reconciliation

Taking a Stand: Land Rights to Reconciliation

Taking a Stand: Land Rights to Reconciliation

Taking a Stand: Land Rights to Reconciliation

Excerpt

This story belongs to those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are real heroes—Lowitja (Lois) O'Donoghue, Patrick Dodson, Mick Dodson, David Ross, Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton, Eddie Mabo, Getano Lui Jnr and many others. They are indigenous Australians who through their political courage, intelligence and stand for justice have made their indelible mark on modern Australia. This book is written as a tribute to them and to the many indigenous Australians with whom I worked during my term of office. Sadly, since the completion of the book, one of those people, Charles Perkins, has passed away.

This book is an insider's account of momentous initiatives in Australian indigenous affairs between 1990 and 1996: the start of the process of reconciliation; the national response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC); the evolution of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC); the establishment of the position of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner; the fight for the Native Title Act and the National Land Fund; the enhancement of international human rights protection for indigenous people; and the launch of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) Inquiry into the stolen generations. It is my hope that telling this story will contribute to the unfolding agenda of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs.

Indigenous affairs government policy in 1990–96 did not happen in a vacuum. There has been a backdrop of 202 years of often unhappy relations between governments and indigenous people. Chapter 1 gives an overview of that history.

The principles of the reconciliation process were conceived as a framework and a strategy to be unanimously endorsed by the Australian parliament to ensure that indigenous aspirations were a central focus of our national agenda in the decade leading to the centenary of . . .

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