Statement NT human rights abuse

Australia’s Shame – the Four Corner’s program has brought the abhorrent treatment of our children to the forefront of the national conscious. Like you, I felt outrage, pain and hopelessness at the images of those boys, tear-gassed, stripped, beaten, held down, locked up or hooded. I believe that the whole of Australia felt this sadness and anger, but as Aboriginal people this suffering is intensified. You cannot talk about Don Dale without talking about institutionalised racism, nor can you remove it from the ongoing suffering of our people. The fact that this has been allowed to go on diminishes us all. Until we address the underlying issues of identity, race and justice, this cycle will continue.

As a proud Narungga man and as the Co-Chair of Reconciliation SA, I would like to say on behalf of the entire organisation that we emphasise and recognise the abuse of human rights that has occurred in the Northern Territory, and we do not tolerate it. To the Aboriginal community members of the Northern Territory, we want you to know that we share your pain and standby you.

While our first reaction may be to act out of our pain with anger and retaliate against institutions and authorities, I encourage all South Australians, and in particular my Aboriginal brothers and sisters to stand up against this behaviour by supporting each other. It would be natural to complicate these issues by retaliating in a negative way, but we all need to take a step back and call on the spiritual strength of our ancestors and elders to find constructive ways to deal with the continuing adversity we face.

These issues need to be addressed, and I urge you all to advocate for justice for these boys and for our people. This cannot continue to happen to us and in our own country.

We need to make sure that it is not happening and will not happen in South Australia. I truly believe that Australia is better than this, that together we can be better than this. Let’s all embrace our families with love and give our children a sense of hope where they can imagine a brighter future that honours and celebrates their cultural identity.

Peter Buckskin, Co-Chair Reconciliation SA

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