Acknowledging milestones and looking to a brighter 2022 as we close out our 24th year
What a strange couple of years it has been… we will be remembering the time of Covid-19 for many years ahead and it will become more and more evident how epoch-defining it is.
With turmoil comes change. We have a new National Closing the Gap Agreement now in place, a blueprint for addressing the unfinished business in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and an Australian public that continues to lead our governments in understanding that change is overdue, that justice must be sought and delivered.
A universally human trait is to mark time, place and events. To remember significant moments and memorialise. I am not sure if it is a special nostalgia gene or if our desire to mark these moments answers some deeper need in us to consider how we have arrived in the here and now. This time of year is always a time of reflection for me. I remember the anniversaries we’ve marked over the last 12 months – 30 years since the Royal Commission into Deaths in Custody, 50 years since the creation of the iconic Aboriginal Flag.
The next 12 months will offer another set of really important anniversaries regarding the history between Black and White Australia. In 2022, it will be 30 years since Prime Minister Paul Keating gave his Redfern Speech, imploring non-Indigenous Australians to imagine if the atrocities visited upon First Nations Peoples had been committed against them… 2022 will also mark 30 years since the Mabo High Court decision and the birth of Native Title legislation, 50 years since four Aboriginal men planted a beach umbrella on the lawns of (Old) Parliament House and established the Tent Embassy, and already 5 years since 300 First Nations delegates from around the continent gathered at Uluru to produce that eponymous Statement.
We remember because these moments demand that we do. They have been defining acts of defiance, speeches of grace, decisions of truth and moments that have categorically changed Australia forever.
As we reflect on the journey this nation has been on over those years, considering how far we have come and how far we have yet to go for equality and recognition we have another opportunity to make a new moment of change.
Again, it was Paul Keating that said when you change the government you change the country. We are not far away from the next Federal Election to decide who represents us, who best promises to live up to our values and hopes and who will honour the mission to heal our nation from the failures of the past.
We are nonpartisan in our party affiliations, but we are highly partisan for the cause of justice and reconciliation.
Wishing you and yours peaceful holidays and looking forward to a brighter new year.
Paul is ANTaR’s National Director and has experience working in both Government and non-government sectors – covering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, health, immigration and social services. Paul studied politics and international relations at the University of Canberra and has a Masters of Strategic Studies from the Australian National University. Prior to his role with ANTaR, Paul was the Executive Officer for the Close the Gap Campaign Secretariat and the National Health Leadership Forum at the Australian Human Rights Commission.