NAIDOC Week 2011
July 4, 2011
It is my great pleasure to wish you all a very happy NAIDOC week.
It's the time of year where we set aside seven days to celebrate the achievements, strength and enduring culture of our communities across our nation.
We reflect on our history, and the struggles we have overcome to get where we are today.
It is not only a special time for us, but also non-Aboriginal Australia.
NAIDOC Week is a truly inclusive celebration where we invite our non-Aboriginal brothers and sisters to learn a little about our culture and communities. We can use this time to shine a light on our unique culture to our whole community.
I also think it's vital, that during this week, we celebrate our success.
I can't think of a better time to reflect on land rights, something that is at the core of our identity as Aboriginal peoples.
Land rights has brought a great deal of benefits to our communities in New South Wales, and this week we must honour the people who fought so hard for these rights - the land rights legends in each of our communities.
I'd like to honour these legends during NAIDOC Week. Because of their strong fight, New South Wales has one of the most impressive pieces of land rights legislation in the nation.
The benefits that it has brought to our communities can not be forgotten.
We have been able to leverage significant progress for our people from our modest land holdings (we only hold less than 0.1 percent of the total NSW landmass).
For example, the $200 million joint water and sewerage initiative between the NSW government and the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council is providing much need services, and the $30 million education scholarship is a practical step towards lifting our children, and men and women, through learning.
Land rights is self-determination inaction.
It's also reconciliation in progress, because the more we lift our people, the more they are able to take their rightful place in this nation as equal citizens.
That's something worth celebrating, particularly during NAIDOC Week.