MEDIA RELEASE: 25th ANNIVERSARY OF THE REDFERN SPEECH
December 10, 2017
Twenty-five years ago, on a sunny day in a humble park, Prime Minister Paul Keating delivered a speech straight to the conscience of our nation.
Today the most replayed and best remembered section of Redfern is Keating's ringing declaration of "the act of recognition".
"Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion.”
Keating showed the honesty, the decency and the leadership to turn the page on our collective denial of the truth of Indigenous histories and begin a process of truth telling.
He spoke truth to the power of a history unexamined for too long.
The Redfern speech was an unflinching acknowledgement by a Prime Minister of the impact of colonisation on our people, an acknowledgement of the appalling history for which they have been dealt, and a recognition of the role and responsibility not only of the colonists, but the collective responsibility of all Australians to play their part in redressing past and continuing wrongs.
Redfern was more than an acknowledgement of the failures of the past, it was a statement of our national determination to do better in the future.
Today Keating's words remind us of our collective responsibility to work towards reconciliation in this country.
The impacts of colonisation and dispossession are challenges which remain for Indigenous Australians as seen in the continuing gaps in economic, health and social indicators. The Gap is still wide.
On the 25th anniversary, Labor acknowledges the late Sol Bellear AM, a justice warrior for First Nations Australians and the original host and emcee of the historic Redfern Address. We understand this anniversary comes with great sadness for the family and community.
The anniversary of the Redfern speech provides an opportunity to reflect on historic Labor achievements in Indigenous Affairs.
- The Whitlam Government delivered the first hand back of land to the Gurindji People at Wave Hill.
- The Keating Labor Government oversaw the passage of the Native Title Act.
- The Rudd Labor Government delivered the apology and implemented the Close the Gap strategy.
And - in the tradition of these achievements and the spirit of Redfern - a Shorten Labor Government will continue to work to overcome the injustices faced by First Nations Australians and to see First Nations People recognised for their unique status as the first peoples of this country.