December 07, 2017

TERRITORY senator Malarndirri McCarthy says the “painful journey” of proving her Australian citizenship has served as a reminder of the ongoing effects of past discrimination.

As a Yanyuwa and Garrawa woman, Senator McCarthy said there was no question mark over her citizenship – her paternal great-great-greatgrandfather emigrated from Ireland in 1842 – but the process of proving it highlighted the difficulties many Aboriginal people still faced in negotiating bureaucratic hurdles.

“I can talk about my father’s side with his ancestry and my great-great-greatgrandfather coming from Ireland but on my mother’s side it’s a reminder of the policies of the past and their impact in the present,” she said.

“You want to do the right thing by the Parliament but when you look for the information that’s required you realise you don’t have the birth certificates of your family.”

Senator McCarthy said the same hurdles she faced in proving her identity remained a day-to-day struggle for other indigenous Territorians.

“There are so many issues of identity for Aboriginal people having to prove their identities, they may have different names, language names, it may not be recorded,” she said.

“The NT is really a very strong indicator of those past policies and practices which still impact today.”


NT News, 7 December 2017.