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You are here: Home / UrbanGrowth, SMDA & RWA Plans & Activities / Built Environment Plan Phase 1 - The State Significant Sites / Eveleigh Street Precinct / Aboriginal Housing Company Concept Plans / Speech by Michael Mundine Snr. To NSW Parliament House Reconciliation Forum 20th September 2006

Speech by Michael Mundine Snr. To NSW Parliament House Reconciliation Forum 20th September 2006

The following speech was delivered by Michael mundine Snr to members of parliament and others attending the Reconciliation Forum held in the NSW Pasrliament Theatrette on 20th September 2006. This forum was organised by ReconciliACTION and focused on aboriginal housing issues in Dubbo and Redfern.

In 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King told the world he had a dream, that one day his children would not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

I would like to acknowledge the traditional people of this land, the Gadigal clan.

I stand here before you as a proud Australian black man of the Bundjalung Nation from the North Coast of NSW.

My name is Michael Mundine and it is a privilege to be here today.

What does reconciliation mean to me?

Reconciliation is about coming together as equals while respecting our differences.

Reconciliation is about changing past attitudes and resolving past mistakes.

For Reconciliation to succeed in Australia we must start by educating the next generation about our black history.

In 2003 the NSW Government said they recognised that Aboriginal people know best the needs of their community.

They assured us that they also established ways to make sure that Aboriginal people have a strong voice in planning and deciding how their needs and aspirations are met.

Fine words from the NSW Aboriginal Affairs Plan.

These words don’t seem to apply in practice when big developer money is at stake. 

The Redfern struggle shows that Aboriginal people are still treated like second class citizens in our own country.

We have endured great suffering for many years.

In 2006 we still face many obstacles to obtain human rights to decent housing; good health care; higher education; and community safety.

It is racist attitudes and the denial of the past by Government that is the biggest threat to Reconciliation.

During my time in Redfern I have learned we can not trust or rely on Government alone to fix our problems.

For the last 5 years the Aboriginal Housing Company has worked on the Pemulwuy Project, to develop award winning plans that solve the social problems in our community.

The Pemulwuy project has a lot of community support and has brought people together from all nationalities and all walks of life.

The Pemulwuy project is Redfern’s contribution to national Reconciliation.

Our vision for the Block includes:

•           Affordable homeownership for Aboriginal families;

•           An Aboriginal business college;

•           A sports and health centre;

•           An Aboriginal student hostel;

•           Aboriginal artist markets;

•           Retail and office space;

•           A spiritual place;

•           And an Elder’s centre.

Our project offers the only real hope of creating a healthy and prosperous Aboriginal community in the heart of Sydney.

Government is pushing to mainstream Aboriginal services in Redfern.

They are taking away our identity and stopping our people from climbing out of poverty.

We are not asking for a hand out.

In fact the Pemulwuy project is self-funded.

We are asking for the same development rights as other land owners in Redfern.

The Minister for Planning Frank Sartor has increased the development rights of all the land surrounding Redfern railway station.

While at the same time reducing the residential development rights of Aboriginal owned land in the same area.

Why? Why?

Simply because we plan is to build homes for Aboriginal families.

This is discrimination based on race.

Ask yourselves - if we were proposing new houses for non-Indigenous people would anyone in the NSW Government object?

It would be a mistake for the NSW Government to underestimate the determination of our people to be treated as equals.

I have no faith left in Government because they have let us down too many times.

But I still have faith in the Australian people.

If we all work together we can achieve anything.

All we ask is that we be respected as equals and be allowed to live with dignity.

I believe Australia is the greatest country in the world.

The land of milk and honey.

The opportunity for change is right in front of us.

If we seriously want to push Reconciliation forward we should start by looking at things like Australia Day.

How many Australians out there, know that Australia Day is remembered by my people as a day of mourning.

We look at Australia Day as our day of survival.  

I recommend that Australia Day should be renamed to Reconciliation Day.

It can be a special day for our nation when all people put their differences aside and come together in the spirit of reconciliation.

Thank you and God bless you all.