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LAUNCH - SOCIAL JUSTICE AND NATIVE TITLE REPORTS 2001

Aboriginal Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice

Speech by Alison Anderson

NT CENTRAL ZONE COMMISSIONER

HUMAN RIGHTS AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
COMMISSION LAUNCH - SOCIAL JUSTICE AND NATIVE TITLE REPORTS 2001

ARALUEN ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
CENTRE
ALICE SPRINGS
9 AUGUST 2002

Good afternoon

I'd like to welcome
the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to Arrernte country.
In particular, I welcome Dr William Jonas, the Social Justice Commissioner.
We are here this afternoon to launch the Social Justice and Native Title
Report 2001.

Each year since 1992
- the Social Justice Commissioner has released a report that bears witness
to the ongoing injustice suffered by Indigenous people.

From an Indigenous
community perspective no report has produced the changes that are needed.
Despite the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, Indigenous
people continue to be over-policed, the imprisonment rate continues to
increase, and more people are dying in custody.

Despite the Bringing
Them Home Report documenting the pain of the stolen generation, the government
refuses to apologise and courts have failed.

And despite the Mabo
and Wik judgments this report shows native title representative bodies
continue to be disadvantaged. The limited funding for native title representative
bodies has a debilitating effect on the claims process and compromises
the ability of traditional owners to negotiate fair and appropriate agreements.

Not surprisingly,
Dr Jonas's report asks where to for reconciliation? The government has
failed to officially respond to the documents presented during Corroboree
2000 or the final report of the Reconciliation Council. Increasingly I
doubt the ability of Australia to reconcile because discrimination and
injustice continue to be daily realities for Indigenous people.

We cannot heal our
wounds if they keep being opened.

For reconciliation
to occur we need 'truth'. The South Africans recognised that reconciliation
could only occur if there was a mechanism to talk about what had occurred
- to establish the truth.

In Australia the
truth has not only been avoided - but often condemned.

So ultimately the
value of these reports, like all the other documents on our disadvantage,
lies in the future … These reports will testify that governments
did indeed know … and that they all failed to act.

I sincerely hope
that Dr Jonas' report makes history and that its recommendations are adopted.

Thank you.

Last
updated 23 August 2002