England (c. 1790)
I highly encourage readers to heed the words of Linda Burney, a Native Australian and Minister of Fair Trading:
"When I was Fauna: Citizens Rallying Call"
Linda Burney remembers her childhood well - those days when she was counted among the nation’s wildlife.
"This is not ancient history," says the state’s first Aboriginal minister. "I was a child. It still staggers me that for the first 10 years of my life, I existed under the Flora and Fauna Act of NSW."
In a speech in Wagga Wagga on the tribal land of her Wiradjuri nation, Ms Burney said the anniversary should serve as a “call to arms” to reverse the roll-back of Aboriginal reconciliation by the Prime Minister, John Howard.
"The truth is this," she said. "We are not all equal. And we are not all mates … It is almost impossible to put into words the distress being felt at the roll-back in Aboriginal affairs. Not least because you think of all those people who gave so much."
Ms Burney remembered being taught as a 13-year-old that “my people were savages and the closest example to Stone Age man living today”.
"I vividly recall wanting to turn into a piece of paper and slip quietly through the crack in the floor," she said. "Growing up as an Aboriginal child, looking into the mirror of our country … your reflection was at best distorted and at worst non-existent."
Ms Burney also attacked the Federal Government’s policies on native title and the stolen generations, which she said had a whiff of “paternalism” and “social engineering”. Her speech, at an anniversary celebration on Monday, received a standing ovation.