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Reconciliation goes on against the odds.

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The Hon Warren Snowdon MP Labor Member for Lingiari Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Northern Australia Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Reconciliation

Contacts: Warren Snowdon — 0419 626 601 Markus Mannheim — 0418 846 596

Friday, 28 May 2004

Reconciliation goes on against the odds

A memorial to the land rights pioneer, Vincent Lingiari, was unveiled in Canberra today as part of the ceremonies for this year’s National Reconciliation Week.

Warren Snowdon, whose vast outback electorate was named after the Gurindji leader, today welcomed the tribute, which will stand alongside memorials to Aboriginal parliamentarian Neville Bonner and the stolen generations.

“Today, reconciliation goes on against the odds,” the member for Lingiari said.

“On the one hand, this year has seen the government effectively destroy Indigenous self-determination, white-ant Aboriginal legal services and continue to ignore the scale of Indigenous poverty.

“But communities across the country continue to work hard to build opportunities, and positive things are happening.

“Vincent Lingiari’s brave struggle against injustice in the 1960s forever changed Australia and the relationships between Indigenous Australians and the wider community.

“Today, Vincent’s son, Victor Vincent, spoke, as did Harold Furber representing the stolen generations.

"There were a large number of members of the stolen generations from central Australia present at the ceremony, among them Alex Kruger.

“These people alone are a testimony to the resilience of Indigenous Australians, who have survived against such great odds and invidious government neglect.

“Today’s ceremony highlights the task we all have to progress reconciliation, despite the obstructions placed in the way by the Howard Government.”

Vincent Lingiari was a stockman on the Wave Hill station near Daguragu who worked for many years to improve conditions for Aboriginal station workers.

On 23 August 1966, he led the ‘Wave Hill walk off’, a seven-year strike against the station’s appalling working and living conditions and for the return of Gurindji land.

The strike galvanised national support for Aboriginal rights and culminated in a ceremony at Daguragu in 1975, where Prime Minister Gough Whitlam poured the local sands into Vincent’s hands and gave the Wave Hill station back to the Gurindji.

The memorials unveiled today stand in Reconciliation Place in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle.