Community Forum in NAIDOC Week

The Community Forum Committee held a meeting on Monday, June 30, at the Gosford Uniting Church, in the lead up to National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week, to inform the local community on the proposed referendum on indigenous recognition in the Australian Constitution. 

Over 70 people came to hear local speakers Gavi Duncan, Noel Olive and Graeme Mundine outline their views on the struggle faced by Aboriginal people over the years for recognition. Gavi Duncan, a well-known Central Coast identity, member of the Darkinjung Local Land Council and Aboriginal cultural advisor for Youth Connections, gave a traditional Welcome to Country and spoke about Aboriginal culture and advocated to have it recognised within society.

He also spoke about the long campaign for the rights of Aboriginal people, including the 1967 referendum for the right to vote, and the journey since to have Aboriginal people fully recognised in the constitution. Noel Olive is a lawyer who worked among Aboriginal communities in the Pilbara, Western Australia, and represented them in the case around Aboriginal deaths in custody.

He was strongly critical of the fact that there was no reference to Aboriginal people in the Australian constitution. He traced the history of the constitution pointing out that it was drafted mainly in England before Australia became a federation and imposed on the Australian people by the British Government.

Graeme Mundine, a Bundjalung man from Northern NSW, has been involved with church, indigenous affairs and the rights of Aboriginal people for over three decades. Mr Mundine is now the executive officer of the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in the Sydney Archdiocese.

He said there has never been proper recognition through a treaty with the original inhabitants, and that without a treaty, Aboriginal people would be giving up their sovereignty. He traced the history of their struggle for recognition and the need for Australian people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, to come together to achieve this objective.

Email, 8 Jul 2014
Audrey McDonald,
Community Forum