Indigenous Australians

"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love... and then we return home."


"Those who lose dreaming are lost. "


"May as well be here we are as where we are. "


"Have you forgotten us?
We have not done any wrong.
There is nothing growing here,
it is all dust.
Everything is drying out;
when are you going to send rain?
Have you forgotten us?
If someone has done wrong to you,
it is not us."

JIMMY, BARKER - Muruwari Rain Song

"The Australian native can withstand all the reverses of nature, fiendish droughts and sweeping floods, horrors of thirst and enforced starvation - but he cannot withstand civilisation."


"Such displays of the Australian spirit engender pride, regardless of background, religion and political persuasion. They are unifying... This spirit of leadership should be reflected in our national symbols and one appropriate way to do that is by finally making the changes needed to make Australia a republic... A country's history does not change because it takes a step forward, but its possibilities for the future do."

LARISSA, BEHRENDT - on the community and government response to natural disasters and flooding that affected Australia J

"It was humbling to see how ferocious our environment could still be, how powerless we could be against its force despite all our knowledge and technology. It is in the face of such devastation, such heartbreaking loss of life, such destruction of homes and livelihoods, that character is most strongly tested."

LARISSA, BEHRENDT - on the natural disasters and flooding that affected Queensland and other parts of Australia

"Some have reflected that this heroism, this natural desire to pitch in to help others in need and the tenacity to come together to rebuild communities that has been seen in such abundance over the past few weeks was not so much Australian as inherent human traits. Whichever way these characteristics are viewed, they are attributes which are strong foundations for any society and ones that will enrich a community the more it is permeated by them. Pitching in to help, doing what you can for those who are suffering and worse off than you are, even those you don't know, are values that would extend compassion, altruism and generosity towards all sectors suffering disadvantage."

LARISSA, BEHRENDT - on the community and government response to natural disasters and flooding that affected Australia J

"Privilege could be as harmful to the future welfare of Aborigines as discrimination."


"You have to let go of the past to have a better future, and you do that through love and family."


"As they were leading me up, I looked up and around the galleries and I could feel the whole Aboriginal race, of those who had gone before, were all up there, and I could visualise, I could hear voices and amongst those voices was the voice of my grandfather saying, 'It's alright now boy, you are finally in the council with the Australian Elders. Everything is now going to be alright.'"

NEVILLE, BONNER - on being signed in as a new senator

"For the first time in the history of this country there was an aboriginal voice in the parliament and that gave me an enormous feeling of overwhelming responsibility. I made people aware, the lawmakers in this country, I made them aware of indigenous people. I think that was an achievement. "


"We as Aboriginal people still have to fight to prove that we are straight out plain human beings, the same as everyone else. You know, I grew up, born on a government blanket under a palm tree. I lived under lantana bushes, I've seen more dinner times than I've seen dinners, I've known discrimination, I've known prejudice, I've known all of those things... but some of that is still with us... and it's got to be changed..."

NEVILLE, BONNER - 1960-2010 Australians of the Year, Wendy Lewis

"We've got to come together, that's what we want for Australia. As one people. We're all Australians, regardless of your ethnic background, regardless of your political belief, regardless of your religious beliefs we are all Australians. "


"Unless people own it and have their hands on the levers, forget about it. The lot of Aboriginal people, particularly those in remote communities, is horrendous, but to try and impose things on them is useless."

FATHER FRANK, BRENNAN - on empowering Aborigines

"People can be just as moral without a belief in God, but if they are working in difficult humanitarian fields, such as Aboriginal welfare or refugee advocacy, they need to be extraordinarily focused and courageous to maintain it over a long period of time. I couldn't do it without religious faith and I greatly admire those who can."


"The recognition of Indigenous Australians in our founding charter will be a high point on our nation's long journey towards reconciliation, which began with the historic referendum of 1967."

QUENTIN, BRYCE - on opening of new parliament 28/9/2010

"How can it be, in an egalitarian society, that injustice to the marginalized creates scarcely a ripple? The answer I think is found at the threshold: most Australians do not recognize the original inhabitants, the stolen generations, the faceless asylum seekers, as people: at least, not in the same sense that we are people. Their humanity is of a different order."


"Opera comes naturally to aboriginal people because it's just corroboree. "


"What I am trying to pen is, in the end - after all the heartache of the war - really a love letter to a generation. For they were incredible, and inspiring, and we the children did not understand for so long. And soon they will be gone, and we have not said thank you. They sacrificed - then watched as we took all the spoils, in the decades that followed. "

SALLY, DINGO - about her book Unsung Ordinary Men

"The sun rises, wind blows, grass grows, the tide comes and goes. No one can ever take your land. "


"Where there is tragedy or injustice there is always resilience. There will be deep anger, grief and despair but there will always be a way forward, a constructive way to turn away from bitterness and embrace the future with dignity...
Brick by brick the Prime Minister said - we'll rebuild those devastated towns in Victoria brick by brick, school by school, community centre by community centre. We need to do the same with reconciliation. Each little step creates a platform for more success - a little more self esteem, a little more sense of what's possible."

MICHAEL, DODSON - National Press Club Luncheon, February 2009

"For Indigenous peoples , the impact of separating us from our heritage goes directly to the heart that pumps life through our peoples. To expect a people to be able to enjoy their culture without their cultural heritage and their sacred belongings is equivalent to amputating their legs and digging up the ground and asking them to run a marathon."

MICHAEL, DODSON - Frank Archibald Memorial Lecture, University of New England, 1994

"Australians generally do believe in justice and tolerance and are not racist, but we are perhaps too accepting of racism and tolerance in our midst... The intolerance and racism is something that many indigenous people are confronted with on a daily basis... I believe that racial discrimination should not be tolerated in our society, and enshrining this in the constitution would be an act that enhances us all."

PATRICK, DODSON - on changing the constitution

"Today the thing I find myself thinking about the most is our landscape...I think it's something a lot of us take for granted; for many of us Australia is just there but how many of us have really seen it, have seen Kakadu or Kings Canyon? I know I hope to at some stage, to see Uluru at sunset and the ancient art in the Abrakurrie caves. I think it's our landscape which defines our identity and it's what I'm most grateful for."

PROFESSOR MICHAEL, DODSON - Australia of the Year Presentation, 2009

"Leadership is an elusive concept, hard to describe and impossible to prescribe. It is more evident in its absence, so that when leadership is needed, its lack is sorely felt."


"In a climate of uncertainty and fear, without strong and visionary leadership, people panic."


"These Australians hear the whispering in their heart and know it can only be silenced by coming to terms with the original owners of this beautiful and bounteous land. Many Australians of goodwill sense that a moment for national leadership has slipped past us and is gone."


"Rejecting discrimination in the constitution would empower us all."

PATRICK, DODSON - on changing the constitution

"We have much to contribute to the world; ways of knowing and being that are going to be essential to everyone's survival on our planet. As true citizens of Australia, properly acknowledged in our constitution, we can look forward not only to improving our own lot, but helping Australia contribute to the well-being of all the world's peoples. "


"Indigenous people's rights and interests can be enshrined in a way that is beyond symbolic, and that recognises and embraces the rich and vibrant nature of our indigenous cultures and economies, while ensuring that our rights and interests are forever protected and guaranteed. "

PATRICK, DODSON - on rewriting our constitution

"For Aboriginal leaders, the social and moral obligation that comes with community leadership is life-long. Those who lead, who have authority, must care for and look after those who come behind."


"The history of human suffering of the indigenous people of this country cannot be assuaged by legal decisions or the opening of a purse. It can be assuaged only the opening of hearts."

PROFESSOR MICHAEL, DODSON - Martung Upah Indigenous Conference, February 2005

"In this role my wish is to build our understanding of what it means to protect the rights and human dignity of all Australians. Upholding human rights is about looking out for each other, taking the idea of fairness seriously. And it goes to the heart of who we are as a nation."

PROFESSOR MICHAEL, DODSON - Australian of the Year Presentation 2009

"To many indigenous Australians, in fact, most indigenous Australians, it really reflects the day in which our world came crashing down. I'm sensitive to that, I understand that... but I think Australia is mature enough now to have a conversation about that, and let's get on with it, like we usually do."


"We cultivated our land, but in a way different from the white man. We endeavoured to live with the land; they seemed to live off it. "


"He taught me the power of encouragement. He taught me the reward of having a go, where there seems to be no way up but if you persevere, if you don't ever give up, then you can achieve things which others think are impossible. "

ANDREW, FORREST - of Scotty Black, aboriginal stockman and mentor

"This is the welfare generation, and that is incredibly sad. That will be judged in history as being far worse, I believe, than the stolen generation, because we are literally losing thousands and thousands of our indigenous brothers and sisters to the effects of welfare ? drugs, gunja, low morale, alcoholism. I see it everyday and it can stop. The solution is education, training and a guaranteed opportunity. "


"We must now change course. Welfare has not worked. It has a place, always, in the most desperate times, but if it replaces a person's will, if it turns their kind of feather bed into quicksand, then it is failing the indigenous people. "


"Reconciliation requires changes of heart and spirit, as well as social and economic change. It requires symbolic as well as practical action. "


"I have been told many times that when I win I make my people proud to be Australian. I am Aboriginal, I am one of them and every time I win or am honoured like this it should be an example to Aboriginal people who may think they have nowhere to go but down. But more importantly I am an Australian and I would like to make all Australians feel proud to be Australian. Ours is a truly multicultural society and should be united as such. I would like to believe that my successes are celebrated by all Australians, bringing our nation together."

CATHERINE, FREEMAN - 1960-2010 Australians of the Year, Wendy Lewis

"I want to be a positive role model, especially for kids and Aboriginal people... When people see me, often all they see is another Australian athlete having a go. It isn't until they see the full Cathy Freeman picture that they realise how proud I am of my ancestry and heritage. I'd like a little more tolerance and acceptance of my culture and all the differing cultures that make up Australia."

CATHY, FREEMAN - 1960-2010 Australians of the Year, Wendy Lewis

"I was just totally overwhelmed. I could feel the crowd totally over me, all around me; I felt everyone's emotions being absorbed into every pore of my body. "


"Disappointment and adversity can be catalysts for greatness. There's something particularly exciting about being the hunter, as opposed to the hunted. And that can make for powerful energy."


"This has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl, and that's why I got really emotional, because this has happened to a little girl like me - an Indigenous Australian. "


"I want to be a positive role model, especially for kids and Aboriginal people... When people see me, often all they see is another Australian athlete having a go. It isn't until they see the full Cathy Freeman picture that they realise how proud I am of my ancestry and heritage. I'd like a little more tolerance and acceptance of my culture and all the differing cultures that make up Australia."


"...The history of interaction between the settlers and the settled, the occupiers and the owners is really very dark. Succeeding waves of settlers are oblivious to the original takeover; don't want to know about it. It is only the resilience and the strength, the honesty and the earth-strength of the Aboriginal people that has enabled them to survive... There is a darkness in our history and only when we can shine the light in and on to it will we pick up a vision..."

PETER, GEBHARDT - The Age 26 January 2012

"There is an incredible amount of isolation in the white community - because people haven't learnt to belong. Nobody should be homeless in this land, and yet there is an incredible amount of homeless people. You cannot build a nation until there is a national spirit."

KEVIN, GILBERT - The Search for Meaning Collection, Caroline Jones


Weep not for me for Death is
but the vehicle that unites my soul
with the Creative Essence, God.
My spiritual Being, my love, is
still with you, wherever you are
until forever.
You will find me in the quiet moments
In the trees, amidst the rocks,
the cloud and beams of sunshine
indeed, everywhere for I, too, am
a part of the total essence of
creation that radiates everywhere
about you, eternally.
Life, after all, is just a
passing phase.


KEVIN, GILBERT - Epitaph, Black From The Edge

"I'm the tree you are me
with the land and the sea
we are one life not three
in the essence of life
we are one."

KEVIN, GILBERT - Unity, Black from the Edge

"Right from our early beginnings we were taught of the sanctity of the total life around us... The Aboriginal way is that everything is created equal and sacred: that the soil, the clay, the rocks are all sacred; and that all have a personality. I had the strength of knowing that my creator is not above me somewhere, but is always with me; that, whatever the substance around me, that creation flows to me, through me, within me; that the universe is part of me, as I am part of it - there is complete belonging, and life and death is just a constant flowing - a continual renewing. "

KEVIN, GILBERT - The Search for Meaning Collection, Caroline Jones

"I'm sure many people who discover they are destined to be athletes before they know what kind, go through a period of revelation... when they realise instinctively that this is their game... I think I realised that those first couple of summers in Barellan when the War Memorial Tennis Club became my playground."

EVONNE, GOOLAGONG - 1960-2010 Australians of the Year, Wendy Lewis

"It's something I've always wanted - to be known as an Australian. When I was younger I was always referred to as an Aboriginal tennis player. Now I think the award means that I have been recognised as an entertainer and that makes me happy... It's given me probably as big a kick as winning Wimbledon."

EVONNE, GOOLAGONG - on being named Australian of the Year 1971

"Neither winning nor losing means as much to me as knowing the crowd has enjoyed my match. Some players feel that winning is everything and that losing is a disaster. Not me. I want the spectators to take home a good memory..."

EVONNE, GOOLAGONG - 1960-2010 Australians of the Year, Wendy Lewis

"From 1953 my family lived in a white town, and from 1966 I lived in a white society, but the former didn't make us white, and the latter never made me anything other than what I am - a proud Aboriginal woman, a Wiradjuri Koori. "

EVONNE, GOOLAGONG - 1960-2010 Australians of the Year, Wendy Lewis

"Making love for ten thousand years on a rockledge:
The boronia springs up purple
From the stone and we lay together briefly
For as long as those two lovers."

DAVID, GORDON CAMPBELL - Ku-Ring-Gai Rock Carvings

"This painting is not from today. We've got a story. And we've got laws. We not only believe of land, we believe of even river or creek or saltwater. That's our own law there. Our own law and story. "


"Australian democracy is genuinely benevolent, but is preoccupied with its own affairs. From time to time it remembers the primitive people it has dispossessed, and sheds over their predestined passing an economical tear."


"If Australia is The Lucky Country, the Aborigines must be the unluckiest people in the world."

FRANK, HARDY - The Unlucky Australians

"And the nearer a white Australian is to Aborigines the more likely he is to be racist."

FRANK, HARDY - The Unlucky Australians

"The dominant feature of the later legislation has been this steady reduction of the status of the native, and, though the intention has been protective, legislation has now gone so far that it may well be asked what purpose or plan there is or what possible outcome there can be from a system that confines the native within a legal status that has more in common with that of a born idiot than of any other class of British subject."

SIR PAUL, HASLUCK - on the Native Administration Act 1936, Black Australians

"You once smiled a friendly smile,
Said we were kin to one another,
Thus with guile for a short while
Became to me a brother.
Then you swamped my way of gladness,
Took my children from my side,
Snapped shut the law book, oh my sadness
At Yirrakalas’ plea denied.
So, I remember Lake George hills,
The thin stick bones of people.
Sudden death, and greed that kills,
That gave you church and steeple.
I cry again for Warrarra men,
Gone from kith and kind,
And I wondered when I would find a pen
To probe your freckled mind.
I mourned again for the Murray tribe,
Gone too without a trace.
I thought of the soldier’s diatribe,
The smile on the governor’s face.
You murdered me with rope, with gun
The massacre of my enclave,
You buried me deep on McLarty’s run
Flung into a common grave.

ZAHNEE, HAUPT - To the Others

"Until we give back to the Blackman just a bit of the land that was his and give it back without provisos, without strings to snatch it back, without anything but complete generosity of spirit in concession for the evil we have done him - until we do that, we shall remain what we have always been so far, a people without integrity; not a nation but a community of thieves."

XAVIER, HERBERT - The Bulletin Literary Supplement, 1 November 1983

"Our vision is for a world where no one is needlessly blind, and Indigenous Australians enjoy the same health and life expectancy as other Australians."

FRED, HOLLOWS - credo of The Fred Hollows Foundation

"Citizenship has not delivered Indigenous Australians the same quality of life other Australians expect. Basic human rights involve health, housing, education, employment, economic opportunity, and equality before the law, and respect for cultural identity and cultural diversity. These human rights must be capable of being enjoyed otherwise they are empty gestures."


"For Indigenous Australians, equal rights and citizenship have not always translated into full participation in Australian society. All Indigenous Australians have only been counted in the census since the 1967 Referendum. Even so, State protection and welfare laws continued to control the lives of Indigenous Australians and denied them equal rights, well into the 1970's."


"We have reached a pivotal time in Indigenous affairs when for the first time, national attention is being paid to the horror of Indigenous family violence in this country. For the first time, an Australian Prime Minister has held a summit in the national capital to listen to concerns and ideas on this issue from a group of Indigenous leaders."


"The true essence of reconciliation is more than making friends with non indigenous people. Our motto is united Australia, one that respects the land and the heritage of its indigenous peoples and provides justice and equity for all. I think reconciliation is about changing the structures that govern us and trying to influence opinion leaders in whatever way we can."


"It's a very Aboriginal thing to do, to give younger people greater responsibilities within the community as they become able to take those responsibilities on. It is a culturally appropriate transfer of roles that involves respect in both directions.. from the younger to the older and the older to the younger."


"We must respect each other's right to choose a collective destiny, and the opportunity to develop the legal and political rights for Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples so that we may enjoy the right to maintain our culture, our heritage and our land, as a united Australia."


"Great Southern Land, in the sleeping sun
you walk alone with the ghost of time
they burned you black, black against the ground
and they make it work with rocks and sand"

ICEHOUSE, ICEHOUSE - Great Southern Land, songwriter Iva Davies

"I long for my mother’s smile. For one of my dad’s adventures. For my brother, my sister, my aunties, uncles and cousins. Friendliness and smiling are not part of the code of conduct here. There are no wall-to-wall smiles. Only the open-edged statement. Terra Nullius. I have got terra nullius of the brain. They have got terra nullius of the heart."

TERRI, JANKE - Butterfly Song

"Aboriginal people are a steady beating heart at the centre of our Australian spiritual identity."


"We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion. It was our ignorance and our prejudice. And our failure to imagine these things being done to us. "

PAUL, KEATING - Redfern Speech, 10 December 1992

"Two countries in one continent, with one unknowable future. Reconciliation is a long road for all of us."

KEVIN, KEEFFE - Paddy's Road, Life Stories of Patrick Dodson

"The unity of Australia is nothing, if that does not imply a united race. A united race means not only that its members can intermix, intermarry and associate without degradation on either side, but implies one inspired by the same ideals, of a people possessing the same general cast of character, tone of thought."

PROFESSOR MARCIA, LANGTON - on the need for constitutional change

"It is wrong for Australians to claim that the nation was born of a peaceful process. at the very time that constitutional conventions were held as gatherings of the white colonial men who sought to federate six colonies into a single commonwealth, their brothers were still engaged in savage frontier campaigns to take territory from Aboriginal peoples, territory that the men at the conventions assumed a new authority over."

PROFESSOR MARCIA, LANGTON - on the need for constitutional change

"I propose that our children will benefit from a serious consideration of these issues, in particular, proposals for referenda questions that would deal with removing the offending racist provisions of the Constitution, Section 25 and Section 51 (ss. xxvi) and replacing them with an acknowledgment of the pre-existing Aboriginal polities, or Aboriginal nations, and the necessity to make agreements with these groups in order to achieve peace and good order. We must, I believe, leave our children with a formal acknowledgement in our Constitution of the existence of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, one that goes beyond the racialised citizen and encompasses the explicit rights of peoples within our nation state."

PROFESSOR MARCIA, LANGTON - on the need for constitutional change

"The racialised Aboriginal citizen is an unacceptable and inappropriate replacement for the absence of the Aboriginal person that our Constitution required for six decades. Some concept more appropriate than reference to a 'race' in the Constitution should acknowledge our existence in the nation."

PROFESSOR MARCIA, LANGTON - on the need for constitutional change

"Since Federation, public debates about the place of Aboriginal people in the nation have focused on the problem of how to incorporate Aboriginal people within the framework of the Australian nation-state by various means: assimilation, integration, self-management, self-determination, reconciliation, but always on the proviso that they would never be equal. There is a persistent unwillingness to acknowledge in Australia, the rights of indigenous people are inferior to those in the United States, Canada and New Zealand."

PROFESSOR MARCIA, LANGTON - on the need for constitutional change

"We gotta look after the whitefellas in this country. "


"We're all gifted with the opportunity to succeed. But you get further if you extend the hand of friendship."


"Everywhere I go, I feel like a part of me is there. The whole nation is part of my home."


"There is healing in our dreams. Let us dare to dream again. "


"If you've got no love in your heart, you've got nothing... No dreaming, no story, nothing... "

MAGARRI, MAGARRI - Australia, the movie

"Whenever I wrestle with indigenous issues to which there are no simple solutions, I am drawn back to my own people in Cape York. Until fairly recent times in our 40,000-year history, we owned our land and had sovereignty over it. It was our economic, cultural and spiritual foundation. It was the alpha and omega of our existence. It defined us and shaped our identities. It was both our strength and our weakness - yes, a weakness because, as hunter-gatherer peoples, it was all we had. Without it we had nothing. "


"If non-indigenous and indigenous young people come together to learn about each other's cultures, to learn the real history of this country and acknowledge it, this will hopefully improve the way we all interact. "


"If you can imagine the one family continuously occupying the same land for 40,000 years or more, using it not just to sustain life but as a place of reverence and worship, where every tree, rock and waterhole had significance, you will get some understanding of the importance of land to indigenous people. "


"What I really believe in, especially for kids these days is, follow your dreams, even if other people think that your dream is silly or they think that you haven't got the ability to achieve it, just don't listen to the negative stuff , you know you've got to follow your dreams because if you have enough determination you will get there, you will get there eventually - just don't let other people put you off."


"Much trouble has come from people forgetting the land, the spirit. Many people are sick and have lost their spirit. The white government has cut their culture; we grieve for them. But we can all learn and make our spirit strong. My teaching is about opening your spirit, working together to build understanding. Opening our way, opening our hearts to share the spirit of the land with all who want to learn."


"Reconciliation means bringing two cultures together: maru munu piranpa tjun-gurin-ganyi, black and white coming together. The two laws need to become one to keep the land. We, the Pitjantjatjara people, have always kept our land and looked after it and made it grow."


"People need to realise that we all share the same spirit that comes from God and from the earth."


"White people need to understand Aboriginal law and that Tjukurpa is in the land. People need to not just talk mining, money, cars and cattle. They need to open their hearts, let the wind that blows across my country talk to them. Understand that anangu maru are alive and living on our land, looking after it as our grandmothers and grandfathers did, following the law."


"At first white people did not understand us, they shot the black fella and the black fella speared the white fella. I do not speak badly of those people who do not understand. I want to teach all people, black and white, about the land and our way of living with it. Ignorance is the reason for a lot of racism. If people will listen to our way, they will understand why we live in the country of our grandparents and why we must have strong land rights. If people lose their land, their law is broken and their spirit dies."


"The Mabo decision is good. The land is the centre of culture and spirit for Aboriginal people. Those people whose land was taken from them, where the big cities like Sydney and Adelaide were built, those people need to be helped. They need land for their culture and spirit to be strong again."


"We want to walk with you, we don't want to walk alone."


"All we want is to be able to think and do the same things as white people, while still retaining our identity as a people."


"You can play a tune on black keys, you can play a tune on white keys, but both are needed for perfect harmony."


"Aboriginal People are the skeleton in the cupboard of Australia's national life... outcasts in our own land."

PASTOR DOUG, NICHOLLS - National Day of Mourning speech, 1938

"The scrubs are gone, the hunting and laughter.
The eagle is gone, the emu and the kangaroo are gone from this place.
The bora ring is gone.
The corroboree is gone.
And we are going."


"Unfortunately for many Aboriginal people, of course, they've been in the situation of being herded on government reserves. Their own responsibility's been assumed by Protectors of Aborigines and by government officials and if you become part of that system, it's always difficult to break out of it."


"We are all here now and we have to solve our differences and live together as Australians... I will use the title you have honoured me with to bring the Australian people together... Together we can build a remarkable country, the envy of the rest of the world."

LOWITJA, O'DONOGHUE - at the Australia Day 1984 presentation ceremony

"Obstacles are there to get around, climb over or scramble through. "


"What is important is that I have been able to demonstrate to other women and also to Aboriginal people generally that Aboriginal people are capable of doing these things and women are capable of doing these things and Aboriginal women are capable of doing these things."


"They (the women) will always do it, it seems to me... I am woman and I am strong. "


"The driving thing was for me to get out of the poverty that we lived in... My mother always used to say that we were as good as anyone else."


"I find it difficult to say I'm black first and a woman second or vice versa. I can't make that kind of distinction. Amongst Aboriginal women I do my best to raise their consciousness both as women and as Aboriginals."


"The women are the movers and shakers in the community...they initiate things...they keep things going."


"Let no-one say the past is dead, the past is all about us and within. "


"We cannot own the land. We are but the custodians of the land. "


"The artist educates the public, the public votes the way they have been educated to, and the politicians take notice. "


"My view is that the Australian Constitution has served 97 per cent of the nation well. It has not worked, and does not work, for 3 per cent: my people, indigenous Australians. It is broke and was broke for the 3 per cent from the beginning in 1901."


"In reality, what is needed to counter passive welfare is an increase of self-regard among the disadvantaged, rather than strengthening their belief that the foundation of their livelihood is the welfare state and the other-regard of the successful."


"Our culture is something that has sustained us for thousands and thousands of years and will continue to do so in generations to come. "


"We know we cannot live in the past but the past lives in us. "


"This is another world to the ones most Australians know. It was explained by my father once that it's like a blanket on the ground. We, the uninitiated, only see the blanket. Lift it up and that's what our elders see 'the real thing' - a world most of us will never know or understand. Through their paintings, artists offer us a glimpse of the world of dreams where the past, present and the future link. "

HETTI, PERKINS - of Aboriginal Art

"So what is the Dreaming? I would say the Dreaming is a non-indigenous term used in its broadest sense to describe the stories of our ancestors and how they shaped the land and how they are still part of the land? Across Aboriginal Australia there are as many different terms for Dreaming as there are language groups"


"This is the land of dreamings, a land of wide horizons and secret places. The first people, our ancestors, created this country in the culture that binds us to it. "


"Never intellectualise further than you can emotionally carry people. "


"Our artists have the power to bring our dreams and our nightmares to life so we will never forget. "


"It's a long road we have come and it's a long road we can go. We have to walk together and talk together. If you never listen to me, I will never listen to you. I will not follow you. Walk side by side and let's get there."

CONRAD, RATARA - at a handing back ancestral lands to Aboriginal people ceremony

"Music is a good place to go when you're feeling a bit down."


"It's what I've loved for a long time, I don't know what else I'd do. I'd rather be performing than not at the moment."

ARCHIE, ROACH - on performing

"I'm going to win it for my country. I'm the first Aboriginal to win this. Isn't that something? I wish my Dad was alive to see it. He'd be as proud as I am."

LIONEL, ROSE - on defending his World Bantamweight title

"I wasn't aware of the impact that I had made on the lives of Aboriginal people until I did a bit of travelling and visited various communities throughout Victoria. To see the way that my people looked at me and to know that I made a difference to them was an honour."

LIONEL, ROSE - 1960-2010 Australians of the Year, Wendy Lewis

"The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future. We apologise for the laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians..."

KEVIN, RUDD - Sorry Speech, 12 February 2008

"A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed. A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility. A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia The truth is: a business as usual approach towards Indigenous Australians is not working. Most old approaches are not working. We need a new beginning?a new beginning which contains real measures of policy success or policy failure; a new beginning, a new partnership, on closing the gap with sufficient flexibility not to insist on a one-size-fits-all ?approach for each of the hundreds of remote and regional Indigenous communities across the country but instead allowing flexible, tailored, local approaches to achieve commonly-agreed national objectives that lie at the core of our proposed new par"

KEVIN, RUDD - The Apology

"My grandfather said to me, 'You have to first love yourself, and spread it around'."


"I'm a new generation of black activist - less angry, more effective. There are a lot of people you wouldn't even hear about now, and their kind of activism is much deeper, smarter, quieter and effective. I think those days of standing on top of police cars and shouting are over - mind you they'd probably lock you up as a terrorist for that now."


"You live with someone until they accept that you are what you are, that you're not going to change and they love that about you - and then they decide to marry you, I guess."


"I got things I wanna say - Samson and Delilah gave me a platform and a confidence that I didn't have before."


"In our tribe, Wandjina made the whole world, birds, trees, rocks, animals, people, you and me. He gave us the land divided equal and gave us totems to look after. He punished us when we made mistakes. He is said to be our grandfather's God before we were born and those with and before him."

MAURICE, UMBAGI - The Aboriginal Children's History of Australia

"Vincent Lingiari, I solemnly hand to you these deeds as proof, in Australian law, that these lands belong to the Gurindji people and I put into your hands part of the earth itself as a sign that this land will be the possession of you and your children forever. "

GOUGH, WHITLAM - Gurindji Land Ceremony Speech, 16 August 1975

"An effective leader creates specific, achievable goals, initiates action and enlists the participation of others. They remove distractions; grasps the bigger picture, focuses on one task at a time; completes the task competently and organizes for the future."


"The purpose of life is to matter and be ever mindful of the opportunities that we can both individually and collectively provide for our Families and Communities in making a difference to their outcomes."


"As Aboriginal people we have always retained our resilience, our humour and our cultural integrity - we will always retain our dreams and a vision for the future for our people."


"I felt a sense of relief that the pain of the past had been acknowledged and that the healing could begin. At that point, the standing orders prevented an Indigenous response. On behalf of my mother, her siblings and all Indigenous Australians, I, as an Aboriginal voice in this chamber, say thank you for the apology delivered in the federal parliament and I thank the Hon. Kevin Rudd for honouring his commitment to the stolen generation. I hope that all governments continue to embrace new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed."

KEN, WYATT - First Speech, 29 September 2010

"Choose your destiny pathways with determination but equally be prepared to change course if you have chosen the wrong way to go."


"The purpose of life is to matter and be ever mindful of the opportunities that we can both individually and collectively provide for others."


"We can walk together to change the status quo."


"Be proud of your Culture - it is not a barrier to your aspirations, dreams and achievement but it is the essence of who you are and the qualities that you have as a person."


"Some will retain the status quo and hope that the future remains static - change is challenging and hard work."


"There is a need to map and measure what factors will enable change to live beyond a short term fix and deliver value through sustainable change and share responsibility for achieving outcomes. We need to build the capacity of people in communities to manage their own affairs."


"As leaders we need to be pathfinders so that we can accelerate the change needed to improve outcomes for our future generations. To me, pathfinders are leaders who shape the future, which is fast, fragile, fashionable and ever changing. As pathfinders, we forge the way forward and we draw the maps and pathways for the future generations of Australians. As pathfinders, we have to commit to and fight for change... As a pathfinder, I will focus on the present and learn from the past to shape the future for the generations to come. "

KEN, WYATT - First Speech, 29 September 2010

"We need to take our ideas and aspirations, act on them, see them through to success and not give up when the quest gets challenging."


"My parents instilled in us the values of having respect for others, having integrity, trusting others and accepting responsibility for our actions and decisions. We were taught that our word was to be our bond, and that prevails. However, life experiences teach you to be much more astute to those who have ulterior motives based on personal gain."

KEN, WYATT - First Speech, 29 September 2010

"The concepts of community and community life, have since the Dreaming, always held special significance for Aboriginal people because both provided the physical, cultural, spiritual and social environments, which supported children, young people, families and the aged."


"I have always believed and promoted the fact that education and access to the knowledge society involves lifelong learning."

KEN, WYATT - First Speech, 29 September 2010

"If you can see the invisible, then you can see the possible and provide the opportunities for trust, commitment and ways of empowering others to manage their past, present and future."


"What Australia was before is the fullest Australia has ever been... as created and made and valued by indigenous people. The white man came here and took it away, took it away and replaced it..."

GALARRWUY, YUNUPINGU - 1960-2010 Australians of the Year, Wendy Lewis

"The name Yunupingu means 'rock - rock that stands against time'. The name Yunupingu belonged to my grandad, like he was a hero in his time. It was passed down through the generations to my Father. It's a name that makes us understand who we are, where we're coming from and what our connections are to mother earth and the universe."


"We are at last being recognised as the indigenous people of this country whom must share in its future. This is not a day of national mourning for us. We must leave history behind us and look forward."

GALARRWUY, YUNUPINGU - 1960-2010 Australians of the Year, Wendy Lewis

"Making money can be one thing. Building bridges can be the other one. All it takes is understanding now, to make that dream come true."


"The historic 1967 referendum - where Australians voted overwhelmingly to make Aborigines citizens and for federal government powers to legislate on their behalf - had been forced upon the Aboriginal nation. Aboriginal people have never wanted to be equal with the white people of Australia. The referendum had been inspired by guilt and had never considered the rights we Aboriginal people really had, or who we really were."


"When we paint, whether it is on our bodies for ceremony or on bark or canvas for the market, we're not just painting for fun or profit, we're painting as we always have done to demonstrate our continuing link with our country and the rights and responsibilities we have to it."


"We operate in two aspects of reality. One is restricted (sacred); the other is unrestricted (public). That's why I find it easy to come into the white man's world and operate, then go back to my world without fear of losing it. I'm using white man's skills, Yolngu skills and putting them together for a new beginning."

MANDAWUY, YUNUPINGU - explaining Yothu Yindi

"It's about people coming to an understanding, a realisation that we must bridge the gap, build bridges and make people aware of what's happening. The award gives me the kind of pride and understanding that most people wouldn't think of. It is strengthening the Yolgnu people, but it's also giving strength to Balanda people who otherwise don't have that kind of understanding..."

MANDAWUY, YUNUPINGU - on accepting the Australian of the Year award 1992

"My strongest memory of growing up is following my mother. Looking at her, observing her activities... She'd tell me things at night, bedtime stories around the campfire. Very important message stories that had meanings. They told you how to behave, how to respect that elder, that community leader. I have vivid memories of her giving me information, communication, giving me the freedom to think the way I think is the right way."

MANDAWUY, YUNUPINGU - 1960-2010 Australians of the Year, Wendy Lewis

"With the exception of Indigenous peoples, we are a nation of boat people whose forbears made the journey from elsewhere to our shores. How we assist succeeding generations in adjusting to their new country is one of the measures of Australia's maturity and well-being as a nation."

ARNOLD, ZABLE - on refugees