“Balit Dhumba” meaning “Strong Talk” had a special guest this morning the Minister for Indigenous Australians the Hon Linda Burney. The Ministers first visit to 3KND was on the back of a busy morning in Naarm (Melbourne) where she visited Elders and members of First Peoples Assembly of Victoria on Wurundjeri country in the heart of Fitzroy.
Grant Hansen took the opportunity to sit down and have a one on one with the Minister regarding the Referendum and how important it was for mob to vote in a few weeks’ time.
Linda Burney was born at a time when the Australian Government knew how many sheep there were but not how many Aboriginal people. Linda was 10 years old before the 1967 referendum fixed that.”
Dedicated to social justice and Indigenous rights, Linda was one of the first Aboriginal students to graduate from Mitchell College, now known as Charles Sturt University, with a teaching degree in 1978.
After beginning her career as a teacher in western Sydney, Linda later went on to be appointed Director General of the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs. She received an Honorary Doctorate in Education from Charles Sturt University in 2002.
Linda has also held senior positions in the non-government sector and served on a number of Boards including SBS, the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, and the NSW Board of Studies.
Prior to entering Federal politics, Linda served 14 years in NSW Parliament as the Member for Canterbury and held a number of senior portfolios including Family Community Services.
At a Federal level Linda has been the Shadow Minister for Human Services, Shadow Minister for Preventing Family Violence and Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services.
Linda Burney is now the Minister for Indigenous Australians and the Member for Barton.
Appointed to the Cabinet by Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese in May 2022, Linda has the important task of implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including responsibility for a referendum to establish a First Nations Voice to Parliament.
Earlier in the day the minister spoke to the First Assembly here is part of that conversation…
Good morning, everyone and thank you so many of you for making the time to join us here in Gertrude Street. This, of course, is an iconic place. We've got the Assembly, but we've also got the heart of where it was so important for First Peoples of Victoria, to have this place. And of course, the great Archie Roach’s Charcoal Lane, immortalised this part of Melbourne.
Can I first of all, thank Uncle Ringo for your Welcome. And thank you for sharing the story that you did about yourself. And also drawing to absolute attention, the disparity amongst Aboriginal people. And the fact that the Voice is not just an idea that will somehow float down. It is a pragmatic, practical change that will see better outcomes for First Peoples in this country. I also want to recognise Ruben and Ngarra, for their leadership.
It's wonderful to see young people, you are young to us, to see young people leading such an important endeavour, here in Victoria. I also want to acknowledge the many people that have joined us this morning, who have volunteered over the weeks and months. But also understand, and I want you to understand, that change is not easy. It never comes easily, it is hard.
And the people standing behind me know that. Which is why we have worked so diligently towards changing this place forever, not just for the nation, but First Peoples in this country. Can I also say that one of the things that the yes campaign has been very clear about is making sure that we lead a positive, respectful and honest discussion. And we have endeavoured to do that, at every turn.
It is 16 days to go 16 days to this country makes a massive decision about the future of our nation. Will it be a future of unity? Will it be a future of true recognition of the truth of this country?
Or will it be more of the same mess in Aboriginal Affairs that we have seen, particularly in terms of the success of programs that have gone nowhere? And if I can just be indulged for one minute more or two minutes more. Probably the one example I give you is the remote area school participation program. Or something with a very long name. It was the invention of Tony Abbott.
It was designed in Canberra without any consultation with the local community, it was supposed to get Aboriginal children to school in remote Australia. Well, can I tell you that after $270 million of expenditure, the participation rates of Aboriginal children in the 80 odd schools that this was supposed to improve, has actually gone backwards. Why?
Because there was no involvement of local people in its design or implementation. Can I just finish up by saying this? It is not often that you get to put your shoulder to the anvil of history and give a change.
And the beauty of a referendum is every single person has a role to play and the decision to make. We are asking the Australian people to vote yes for the referendum on the 14th of October, yes to recognition, yes to listening. And yes to better outcomes for First People in this country.