Tag Archives: Indigenous

13 February 2008

Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of

this land, the oldest continuing

cultures in human history.


We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australian.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have changed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country.


Posted by on February 13, 2008 in Australian


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Great resource for Journeys and multicultural education

Last night I watched Who Do You Think You Are? on SBS.


Go there not just for that one, but for the others in this currently ongoing series.

Naturally, too, I commend Inspiring Teachers which begins on Wednesday 6 February, 2008 at 8pm. 🙂


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Am I “indigenous” to Australia?

A reader has asked me about the word “indigenous”. As far as I am aware “indigenous” (the word) comes from the Latin and means “in” “beget” .. or if you like, “the place where one was born (or conceived)”. In that case I, as were both my parents, and my mother’s parents – are indigenous to Australia, indigenous Australians .. though have to admit that am indigenous to southern South Australia, not indigenous to New South Wales. How many generations does it take to be referred to as “indigenous”?

The first part of that is certainly true. Indigenous is from Latin, where the literal meaning is “born in”; it has been in English since the 17th century. As is often the case, earlier meanings don’t always help us: nice, for example, comes from nescius which means “ignorant”. So how is the word used now?

Would you, for example, argue that Australian rabbits or feral cats are indigenous Australian animals? I suspect not. Clearly, the word now refers to those — plants, animals or people — “originating and living or occurring naturally in an area or environment” (American Heritage Dictionary) but has a strong connotation of having the earliest historical connection to an area or environment.

So “indigenous” is not a true synonym of “native”. I can say, without a shadow of doubt, that I am a native Australian, but my being an indigenous Australian is — in my case — only partly and possibly true.

See, and a very extensive discussion on Wikipedia.

As says, aboriginal has been in English a few hundred years longer than indigenous. It is a close synonym. With a capital letter it refers specifically to some Indigenous Australians — and note too how Indigenous should also be capitalised when referring to the same people(s). But then it gets complicated: as Wikipedia says: The term includes both the Torres Strait Islanders and the Aboriginal People, by which you may see that Torres Strait Islanders, while Indigenous Australians, are not Aboriginal Australians. The inclusive term, therefore, is Indigenous.

And there is more to it than that…! See the Wikipedia article linked in the previous paragraph, check the Style manual for authors, editors and printers, the official word in Australia, and Pam Peters, Cambridge Guide to English Usage.

It used to be that Aboriginal was properly the adjective (as in “Aboriginal art”) and Aborigine(s) the noun, though usage on this has always been disputed. The 2002 Style Manual recommends Aboriginal for both adjective and noun.

Then there are other terms such as Koori and Murri, which have strict geographical limits…

See also my Indigenous Australians Page.

In some formal circumstances we get even more specific. Here in Surry Hills, for example, if we have a “Welcome to Country” or “Acknowledgement of Country” statement we refer to the original owners as the Cadigal People of the Eora Nation.

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Posted by on July 9, 2007 in Australian, English language, questions asked


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Sorry Day and forty years of citizenship…

Adrian Phoon, among others, has remembered the significance for Australians of the past week. Two anniversaries coincide: the 1967 Referendum by which Aboriginal people would be included in the national census, which meant they would have the same citizen rights as other Australians. That was also the first year I voted. Naturally I voted “yes” along with over 90% of Australians. The second anniversary, of which Adrian speaks, is the ten years since the “Stolen Children” Report was published. That report has been attacked, but I think it stands up and remains the site of much unfinished business.

I have a whole page on related matters on my other blog.


See on my personal site National Reconciliation Week 27 May – 3 June 2007.

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Posted by on May 26, 2007 in Australian


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Indigenous Australia

I have a page on my personal site called Indigenous Australians. One of my Chinatown coachees is currently studying this topic in Year 11 English (ESL) so this is partly for him, but also for any of you interested in this amazing, and sometimes troubled, part of Australian culture and society.

Here are three YouTube videos for you, also posted in some recent entries on my personal site.

The story behind that song is here.

The 2000 Olympics seem just yesterday to a grumpy old man like me. I bring you, courtesy of YouTube and mswanson88 who posted it, Christine Anu singing “My Island Home” at the closing ceremony:

And meet from the next-door suburb of Newtown Anthony Hill, Aboriginal story-teller and artist. The video is French, which tests my school French, but Anthony speaks in English. You get an authentic voice here from right in the centre of Sydney Australia. Thanks to celoudin who posted this.

[SPAMMED. Please use the guest book.]

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Posted by on February 14, 2007 in Australian, diversity, multiculturalism


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