Thursday, 28 June 2018
The Barunga Statement
On 12 June 1988 during Australia's bicentennial year, Prime Minister Bob Hawke was presented with The Barunga Statement at the annual Barunga cultural and sporting festival at Barunga, about 80 kilometres south-east of Katherine. This year, over the weekend starting Friday, the 8th, there was a commemorative event at Barunga to mark the 30th anniversary of the presentation of The Barunga Statement. Present there, including me, were our leader Bill Shorten, Linda Burney, Patrick Dodson, Malarndirri McCarthy, Madeleine King and Sharon Claydon. I want to thank them for making the journey to Barunga to celebrate this historic event.
Importantly, I want to read what that statement said:
We, the Indigenous owners and occupiers of Australia, call on the Australian Government and people to recognise our rights—
This was 30 years ago. It continues:
• to self-determination and self-management, including the freedom to pursue our own economic, social, religious and cultural development;
• to permanent control and enjoyment of our ancestral lands;
• to compensation for the loss of use of our lands, there having been no extinction of original title;
• to protection of and control of access to our sacred sites, sacred objects, artefacts, designs, knowledge and works of art;
• to the return of the remains of our ancestors for burial in accordance with our traditions;
• to respect for and promotion of our Aboriginal identity, including the cultural, linguistic, religious and historical aspects, and including the right to be educated in our own languages and in our own culture and history;
• in accordance with the universal declaration of human rights, the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, the international covenant on civil and political rights, and the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, rights to life, liberty, security of person, food, clothing, housing, medical care, education and employment opportunities, necessary social services and other basic rights.
We call on the Commonwealth to pass laws providing:
• A national elected Aboriginal and Islander organisation to oversee Aboriginal and Islander affairs;
• A national system of land rights;
• A police and justice system which recognises our customary laws and frees us from discrimination and any activity which may threaten our identity or security, interfere with our freedom of expression or association, or otherwise prevent our full enjoyment and exercise of universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We call on the Australian Government to support Aborigines in the development of an international declaration of principles for indigenous rights, leading to an international covenant.
And we call on the Commonwealth Parliament to negotiate with us a Treaty recognising our prior ownership, continued occupation and sovereignty and affirming our human rights and freedom.
That work has yet to be done. We have an obligation in this parliament to make sure we follow the lead from the voice from the heart to have a treaty and set up a national representative body to represent the views of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, as was demanded 30 years ago, and repeated recently at Uluru.