CEO Social Justice Blog

This week we are celebrating NAIDOC Week in our region and it’s a time to celebrate Aboriginal culture and recognise the contribution of Aboriginal people to the community.

The theme this year seeks to honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have fought in wars to defend this country.

Many Aboriginal men fought in the last world war but they were never recognised.

Australian soldiers were offered farming land when they returned home from war under the soldier settlement scheme. This was not available to Aboriginal people. Ironically, some of the land would have been originally Aboriginal owned land.

There is no recognition of Aboriginal people’s contribution to the Australian war effort in the National War Memorial, Canberra. Nor has there ever been recognition of Aboriginal involvement in the frontier wars which took place after European settlement.

Aboriginal people are resilient but they continue to battle significant disadvantage in the community. The numbers of Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander children in Out of Home Care in NSW (6000) and Juvenile Justice (30% of total) are staggering, given they make up just 3% of the population.

Next year there will be a referendum to change the Australian Constitution so that the original custodians of the land at least get a mention. We should not expect too much for the change, given our Federal leaders belief about the benefits of European settlement. Nevertheless, it will be another step on the way to the elusive goal of reconciliation.