Australia’s beloved Olympian Cathy Freeman calls for rare National Sorry Day to do ‘the right thing’
‘The time is now’: Australia’s most beloved Olympian, Cathy Freeman, argues strongly for Aboriginal inclusion in the constitution
- National Sorry Day marks the anniversary of the ‘Bringing Them Home’ report in 1997
- The report describes the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their homes
- Sorry Day raises awareness about the removal of indigenous children from families
- Cathy Freeman backs calls for a referendum on indigenous representation
Australia’s most beloved Olympian, Cathy Freeman, has campaigned for the calls for urgent change to ensure there is always an Indigenous vote in the federal parliament.
Freeman, now 48, rarely makes big public remarks, but on National Sad Day, she spoke vigorously in support of constitutional change.
“The time is now for the voice of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to be enshrined in the Australian Constitution,” Freeman tweeted.
Olympic hero Cathy Freeman has backed calls for an indigenous vote in parliament through consitutional change – which could put her at odds with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is four years old today. Come on Australians. Support what is right and fair. ‘
Freeman has long been an ambassador for all of Australia. She is pictured above at the Laureus Academy 2019 welcome reception in Monaco
The Uluru statement was delivered in 2017 and is considered one of the most important public documents expressing a united front for indigenous peoples.
It calls for a representative body to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders a say in the law and policies that affect them, backed by an amendment to the constitution.
Freeman, a Kuku Yalanji woman, has also retweeted a call from the organization behind the Uluru statement for a referendum on an indigenous vote in parliament after the next election.
Freeman is rarely outspoken on major indigenous issues, but was quick to praise the January National Anthem amendment replacing the words ‘young and free’ with ‘one and free’.
What a way to start the year. A call from our Prime Minister to say that we are ‘One and Free! Thank you!’ Freeman tweeted in January.
Protesters march through the CBD during a Stop The Stolen Generation! Sorry Day Rally, Wednesday in Sydney
Stop the Stolen Generation was the theme of the Sorry Day Rally in Sydney
But Freeman’s call for constitutional change could put her at odds with Scott Morrison, who has said that legislation, not constitutional change, would be enough to bring about indigenous representation.
A survey of 1,500 people conducted by Griffith University last month found that 62 percent of people were in favor of a First Nations vote in parliament, favoring constitutional change.
A small but noisy gathering of indigenous peoples and activists gathered for a National Sorry Day rally that kicked off Wednesday afternoon at Sydney City Hall.
The group Grandmothers Against Removals and the Women’s Collective at the University of Sydney were among the organizers of the rallies, with the stolen generations clearly being a big problem in the minds of protesters.
On National Sorry Day, indigenous communities urged all Australians to commemorate the mistreatment of the stolen generations.
Wednesday marks the start of National Reconciliation Week and the anniversary of the 1997 parliamentary submission of the Bringing Them Home report.
The forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children from their families and communities must never be repeated and the hardships must never be forgotten, according to the stolen generations Council of NSW and ACT.
“It is critical that members of the stolen generations, who have endured so much pain, are supported in their healing process,” said director Kirrily Jordan.
Indigenous people and activists were among the small but rowdy crowd in the Sorry Day rally
Protesters in Sydney holding boards depicting a wide variety of indigenous issues marched during a Stop The Stolen Generation! Sorry Day Rally on Wednesday
“The impact of these previous government policies has sparked a vicious circle of intergenerational trauma that requires extensive support and assistance.”
The organization noted that the number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care continues to increase and will double by 2029.
Sorry Day is an annual reminder of the injustices committed by previous governments against indigenous peoples. Unfortunately, the consequences of child relocation for Aboriginal families are not a thing of the past. ‘
The federal government said National Sorry Day “ recognizes and raises awareness of the history and ongoing effect of the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from their families, communities and culture. ”
During National Reconciliation Week, the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet heads the Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag should be flown next to the Australian flag on all government buildings where possible.