Elder calls for future action

JACQUI O'LEARYSound Telegraph

Kwinana Aboriginal elder Theresa Walley believes it is important for Australians to forget about the past treatment of indigenous people and concentrate on making sure they were treated and seen as equals in 2013.

Speaking after the Greens Party call earlier this month for indigenous Australians to be recognised as the first people in the country’s constitution, Mrs Walley said equality among her people was long overdue.

“Aboriginal people want change and recognition and the government has to listen to us,” she said.

“Here we are in one big multicultural nation and we need to recognise that Australia has changed.”

Brand Greens candidate Dawn Jecks believes part of the reconciliation process was to recognise the first peoples in Australia’s foundation document.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the first peoples of our nation, and they aren’t mentioned at all,” she said.

Mrs Walley, a respected Aboriginal elder in Kwinana and a stolen generation survivor, said she was upset that Aboriginal people were still considered a lower class.

“New people come to Australia and they get jobs, fit in and become part of the society,” she said.

“The indigenous people still find themselves out of work.”

She said equal treatment of Aboriginal people should be a priority of Government.

“If we are not recognised, our culture and spirit will just fade away,” she said.

“Don’t tell us what we should have, take the time to actually listen.”

Ms Jecks said her party had been backing indigenous political rights since before 2010.

“We urge other parties to be more active in indigenous issues,” she said.

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