Rally for Aboriginal Justice and Sovereignty

Statement in Parliament on the rally for Aboriginal justice and sovereignty in Redfern and the movement to recognise January 26 as Invasion Day. 


Ms JENNY LEONG ( Newtown ) ( 12:42 :34 ): This year on 26 January more than 10,000 people marched on the streets of Redfern—and tens of thousands more across the country—for Aboriginal justice and sovereignty. I was humbled by the invitation to speak at a rally for Aboriginal justice and sovereignty, which was held at The Block, Redfern. Together with my Greens colleague Mr David Shoebridge, we gathered on Gadigal land. I was pleased to tell those attending the rally that as I crossed the electorate of Newtown that morning to The Block I did not see a single Australian flag but I saw hundreds of Aboriginal flags. It is a sign that the movement to recognise 26 January as invasion day or survival day is growing strong. The struggle by Aboriginal people for sovereignty and justice must continue.

The rally at The Block was not the only action that occurred in Redfern. A wonderful gathering of people at the significant site of Redfern Park marched to Hyde Park to celebrate human rights and to commit to a treaty for First Nations people. At Victoria Park, in the electorate of Newtown, thousands of people gathered for the City of Sydney Yabun Festival to celebrate Aboriginal culture and creativity. It is crucial that we stand in solidarity with Aboriginal people. We must see an end to the deaths in custody, the inequality and the injustice faced by so many Aboriginal people.

As my Greens colleague David Shoebridge said to the rally, it is not only about recognising the historical wrongs that have been done; it is also about recognising the wrongs that continue today. It is part of the history of this State and this country, and it is still happening in 2018. It is shameful that Aboriginal children are taken from their families at twice the rate as occurred when Kevin Rudd said "Sorry". When someone says "sorry", it is implied that it will not happen any more. It is clear that we need to change the date, but we also need to change the system. Although I was born in this country, at times I have felt excluded and that I do not belong, as a result of the overt demonstrations of Aussie pride. I have felt the direct racist undertones of Australian nationalism. I cannot begin to imagine the impact that celebrating a day like this would have on our First Nations people.

Next week marks 14 years since TJ Hickey, a young Aboriginal, was killed as a result of police actions in Waterloo. On 14 February, hundreds will gather—as they have every year since his death—on the site where this tragedy occurred. I will join them, as I have previously whenever possible, and we will march to this Parliament yet again demanding justice for his death and a memorial to be placed in Waterloo in recognition of this tragedy. The commitment given last year that a memorial would be built in Waterloo in TJ Hickey's name was welcomed. Unfortunately, the building of the memorial has been deferred as a result of the delays that continue with the redevelopment of public housing in Waterloo. The purpose of this year's rally is to demand that the memorial, which was designed by TJ's family, be built immediately. It cannot wait for the Waterloo redevelopment to be completed, which, according to the Government's own timeline, is slated to not happen for another decade or more.

The need for justice requires the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry to look into the incident. It is not acceptable for the police to self-investigate. Too many questions remain unanswered. The injustice that TJ's family face is only one of the many struggles for justice faced by Aboriginal people in this State. The struggle for justice will continue until there is justice not only for TJ Hickey and his family but also for the many others who have died in jails in New South Wales at the hands of police. It must continue until all the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody are implemented and until the indicators and measures for Aboriginal young people in this country are equal to those of non-Aboriginal young people. I put on record my thanks and acknowledge the Indigenous Social Justice Association Sydney for its tireless work in campaigning for justice and to bring an end to Aboriginal deaths in custody. I represent the area known as Redfern and the significant site that is The Block. I give my commitment to stand united in support of Aboriginal sovereignty and justice in this State. It was and always will be Aboriginal land.


Link to Hansard transcript

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