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Tuesday, 11 September 1984
Page: 775

Senator JONES —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Has her attention been drawn to a Press report that the Australian Council of Churches is encouraging Australians to observe this Sunday as National Aboriginals' Sunday and to observe National Aboriginals' Week which began yesterday? In the same report it is stated:

. . . the National Aboriginals' Day Observance committee chairman, Mr John Moriarty, said Aboriginals had plenty of reason to be proud of 'this great land' .

Will the Minister lend her voice to the support sought by the Australian Council of Churches and support John Moriarty in the statement he made in relation to the observance of Australian National Aboriginal Day?

Senator RYAN —My attention had not been drawn to this announcement until Senator Jones's question did so, but I am sure I speak on behalf of the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Holding, when I say that I heartily welcome the decision of the Australian Council of Churches to celebrate or acknowledge National Aboriginal Day this Sunday. The fact that this decision has also been welcomed and endorsed by John Moriarty, one of the outstanding leaders of the Aboriginal movement, adds significance to that decision.

In my view, one of the more constructive developments in Australian church life in recent years has been the development of a pro-Aboriginal rights policy. I think some of the best things that the churches have done in recent years have included their lending of support to issues of Aboriginal justice, whether it be land rights, resources for Aboriginal health services, Aboriginal legal services or, in a more general way, to a raising of community consciousness about the historic injustices to Aboriginal people and the need for our society to set those injustices right insofar as that is possible. I hope that the recognition by the churches of National Aboriginal Day will be widespread throughout Australia. If it is, I am sure it will promote the cause of justice for Aboriginal people as well as promote the credibility of the churches in the eyes of the Australian public.