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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5275


Ms PARKE (FremantleParliamentary Secretary For Homelessness and Social Housing and Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health) (21:49): I would like to join with the other speakers in expressing my condolence for the passing of Dr Yunupingu, a great Australian, a man who absolutely lived the change he wanted to see in the world who looked past barriers and looked towards fairness and full participation for Indigenous Australians. I would like to join with other speakers in expressing my gratitude for the fire that Dr Yunupingu lit in our hearts through music, for the great challenge that he made to us all and for the truth that he sang out loud in his anthem of protest and reconciliation:

This land was never given up

This land was never bought and sold

The planting of the Union Jack

Never changed our law at all

Dr Yunupingu was a man who contributed significantly to change in this country. Over the recent Indigenous round of AFL, we reflected on the 20-year anniversary of Nicky Winmar's famous display of pride after the game between St Kilda and Collingwood. That was in 1993, the International Year of the World's Indigenous Peoples. The year was launched in December 1992 by Prime Minister Paul Keating's famous declarations in Redfern, where he challenged all Australians by saying:

The message should be that there is nothing to fear or to lose in the recognition of historical truth, or the extension of social justice, or the deepening of Australian social democracy to include Indigenous Australians … there is everything to gain.

It was in 1993 that Dr Yunupingu was named Australian of the Year—20 years ago, a lot has changed. Keating's acknowledgement at Redfern that we took the children from their mothers was a first instalment of prime ministerial truth and reconciliation that was finally delivered upon with a national apology to the stolen generations in 2008. A lot has changed but not enough. Australia has made and continues to make a too slow journey towards the full healthy, productive and enabled participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, too slow progress away from discrimination and towards full justice and full reconciliation. The gap is still too wide.

Dr Yunupingu has died too young. He has died from renal disease, which afflicts Indigenous people at four times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. Indeed, it afflicts Indigenous people in remote communities at 10 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians. That is one stark measure of Indigenous disadvantage and there are others. We must take every opportunity to spur ourselves on to greater effort and greater action in this area.

I want to recognise the heartfelt and wise words that others have said on this motion. Like many others, I am sorry that Dr Yunupingu is not with us in life but I am glad to think that he will always be with us in song and in spirit.