Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Rights and wrongs.

Download PDFDownload PDF

Return to Media - Return to Media Releases List   


Media Release

Rights and Wrongs


1 January 2001


A Millennium message from ATSIC Chairman Geoff Clark

For Australia’s Indigenous peoples the new millennium must be a century of informed consent.

This rare moment in our history is a time for reflection, a time to recognise both the challenges and the opportunities that will face us in the coming years.

It must be a century of sustained progress towards equality and equity for Indigenous peoples firmly based on their informed consent.

As Australia celebrates its Centenary of Federation, I ask everyone to consider the place Indigenous peoples have in our past and in our future.

Two terrible defects weaken the foundations of the modern Australian nation that were laid in 1901: racism and inequality and the suppression of our true history.

During the colonisation of Australia, no treaties or agreements were negotiated with the first peoples.

Indigenous peoples’ rights were ignored from the moment of the arrival of the British, through to the debates and conventions leading up to the adoption of the Constitution in 1901.

In 1901, the “founding fathers”, failed to recognise the inherent rights of Australia’s Indigenous peoples within the Constitution.

We were, and remain, constitutional strangers in our own land.

We have now walked the walk. We have talked the talk. Now is the time for action.

It is now time to entrench a culture of human rights in our own country.

Let us start the Centenary of Federation celebrations on a pledge to work together to end poverty and inequality.

We can and must do it.

We must continue to encourage recognition and reconciliation by paying due respect to all our cultures, languages and religions.

We must wipe out the legacy of racism and discrimination.

My challenge is to ensure that Indigenous rights become a living reality.

In 1901, the colonies of Australia joined to create a new federation.

In 2001, it is the aspiration of Australia's Indigenous peoples to negotiate a place in that Federation.

Now is the time to right the wrongs of the past.

Geoff Clark ATSIC Chairman

Media inquiries: Please note that Mr Clark is on leave. Inquiries to Martin Freckmann 0427 631 045


Return to Top of the Page

  Return to Media - Return to Media Releases List