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Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Page: 6263

Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (16:41): My question is to the Attorney-General. Attorney-General, a few days ago it was 19 years since the Mabo decision on 3 June 1992, so here we are in our 20th year since that decision. It was an important decision by the High Court, obviously, but more important than the High Court's decision was the response by the Keating government in turning the court decision into a legislative policy that was rolled out and has changed the lives of many Indigenous people around Australia. I go forward a few years to 13 February 2008, my first day at work in Parliament House. An apology was given by Prime Minister Rudd to the stolen generation, fine words indeed—world-famous words, in fact, that people from all around the world have spoken to me about and that were very significant. But more important than that has been the action since then in engaging with Indigenous people. It is not so much the words but the actions that follow in closing the gap.

I go back to my home town of St George and see many of the Indigenous people that I went to school with. Too many of them have been to prison, have had troubles with the law, have had all sorts of challenges. In my travels around as a union organiser I used to regularly go to Woorabinda, to Wadja Wadja High School, a private Aboriginal school, just talking to families and kids. So many of the decisions that would flow later in their lives would come from their sense of safety in their community, from their feeling safe in their bed at night—and sadly, for many folk, it would be actually having a bed or somewhere to sleep that night—or having a house that was a safe place to go to. Attorney-General, could you outline the measures in the budget which will provide assistance for Indigenous Australians, especially in the much-needed area of community safety and justice, because we know that so much about having a safe community and a just community sets up folk for having opportunities later on in life?