Councillor CASSIDY: Thanks, Madam Deputy Chair.
I just rise to speak on the 10th anniversary of the national apology to the Stolen Generations. I would like to acknowledge that today marks that 10th anniversary of the Federal Parliament’s apology. This marked an important turning point for how government works with Indigenous Australians. I commend at this, the 10th anniversary, Kevin Rudd, for that leadership at the time. I can still remember and I’m sure others can where they were when they watched and listened to that momentous occasion 10 years ago.
I shared some of these stories this morning with Aunty Linda McBride and Uncle Alex Davidson and many others at the annual Koobara Kindergarten’s Sorry Day Breakfast, an event that is held on the date of the apology or as close to as possible each year. This year of course was the 10th time this community has come together to celebrate. They, at Koobara Kindy, have been leaders and
ground-breakers on providing a great start to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children on the north side of Brisbane in both their schooling, but also in early health intervention and other support for the community. I certainly commend their work and their ongoing work.
The apology, led by the then Labor Government, acknowledged the truth of the Stolen Generations and the role that the Australian and various state governments shamefully played in that saga.
Queensland was a notoriously horrible place for Indigenous people and the Aboriginals Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act 1897 was one of the worst legal instruments to this effect. It restricted them to reserves, missions and allowed no property rights. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not allowed to marry; needed permission to work and move; severe
corporal punishment was dealt.
Outside Brisbane that history is older, with the two main dumping grounds Cherbourg to the north and Purga to the west—in the late 1800s the native police literally metered out severe corporal punishment and disbursed Indigenous people with carbines and hunting-sized cartridges. That happened right up until the turn of the century and beyond that date in the north of this State.
This callous mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of course continued in Queensland, with the removal of children occurring right up until 1969.
The Stolen Generation serve as a lesson to us who hold office to always do things with First Nations people. Not to do things to them.
I would like to acknowledge the Close the Gap targets that were laid out by the then government which do see us today—and have been carried on—on track to Close the Gap with a few areas: high school graduation rates, infant mortality rates and early childhood enrolment.
But we also do need to recognise we have a significant way to go to Close the Gap on life expectancy, school attendance, literacy and numeracy and definitely Closing the Gap in employment.
Lastly, we should all work in the spirit of the statement From the Heart from the 2017 Constitutional Convention and finally start listening to our First Nations people and have a voice to parliament for those people.
Today is a great day to remember a wonderful day in our nation’s history, but also to remember and recognise that we all, as elected officials at a local government level, at a State government level and a Federal government level, have a long way to go and we should do that with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people every step of the way.
Thanks, Madam Deputy Chair.