Plaque will enshrine echoes of Redfern

Paul Keating delivers his famous Redfern speech in 1992.

The City of Sydney is to carry out the final wishes of Aboriginal activist Solomon Bellear by installing a commemorative plaque in Redfern Park.

The council unanimously supported installing the plaque a day after the 25th anniversary of former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating’s historic Redfern speech.

Mr Bellear was the MC on December 10 in 1992 when Mr Keating delivered the Redfern address.

The plaque will include a quote from Mr Keating’s famous speech: “It was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life.

“We brought the diseases. 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.

“With some noble exceptions, we failed to make the most basic human response and enter into their hearts and minds.

“We failed to ask — how would I feel if this were done to me?”

Councillor Linda Scott said Mr Keating’s speech had been a watershed moment in the fight for reconciliation.

“There is much more to do, but this plaque will be a reminder to us all that closing the gap and ensuring our First Nations people thrive must be delivered urgently,” she said.

Chairperson of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council Roy Ah-See said Mr Bellear had stood for many things including self-determination, proper treaties, Aboriginal control of health and legal services, land rights and a better understanding of history.

“Sol’s family have asked all those who loved him to please continue his work so that the vision he had for his country and people might one day be fulfilled,” he said.

The City of Sydney will now consult with the city’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Panel, historians and members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community about the installation of the plaque.

Mr Bellear passed away in November at the age of 66 and was farewelled at a state funeral earlier this month.

 

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