Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens' Leader
There is new hope for reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Tasmanians, with the establishment of the Reconciliation Council of Tasmania today.
After more than two centuries of suffering on the part of Tasmania's first people, today's launch was a significant moment in Tasmania’s journey towards true reconciliation.
This island, lutruwita/Tasmania, was never ceded by its original owners. After 40 000 years or more, the first Tasmanians had their country taken from them through violence and trickery.
True reconciliation requires us to acknowledge that dispossession, theft of country, attempted genocide and banishment, denial of identity and the extraordinary struggle of Tasmania's Aboriginal people over the past 214 years.
The story of our first people is one of survival, of an ancient, extraordinarily rich culture, and of a people's strength in the face of extreme adversity.
It has been a long, long journey to the Reconciliation Council of Tasmania being established. It was almost two decades ago when thousands of Tasmanians walked the Tasman Bridge in the spirit of reconciliation, and that community feeling has only grown stronger with time.
It was so good to see so many Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community leaders at the launch. This is testament to the enduring community call for reconciliation, as well as the determination and persuasive powers of Bill Lawson.
The Tasmanian Greens want very much for this Council to succeed, and to be able to deliver meaningful outcomes and steps towards justice for our first people. This will also mean being prepared to hear hard truths, and being open to new ways of communicating with each other to achieve outcomes for Tasmania's Aboriginal people.
Progressing reconciliation also needs tangible outcomes. This must include the return of lands, progress towards a Treaty and changing the date of Australia Day so it is a day we can all celebrate.
In Tasmania, protection of Aboriginal heritage and culture has to be above politics. The Greens stand by our commitment to protect takayna/the Tarkine from the destruction that would be wrought by re-opening tracks through one of the world's most significant archaeological sites.
The Tasmanian Greens, in the spirit of reconciliation, will continue to play an active role in advancing the rights and wellbeing of Tasmania's first people. We warmly wish the newly established Reconciliation Council all wisdom, patience and strength in its important work.