A Right To Land And Respect

Uluru“You can’t go climb on top of the Vatican, you can’t go climb on top of the Buddhist temples and so on and so forth.” Those are the words of Vince Forrester an Aboriginal leader from the Mutitjulu township in central Australia. He was responding to questions about the proposed ban on people climbing Uluru, formally called Ayers Rock. Uluru is a sacred site and features in the Aboriginal belief of creation.

The rock was given back to the Aboriginals in 1985 but remains a huge tourist attraction with over 350,000 visitors each year. Almost a third climb the rock as a challenge and to view the surrounding scenery from the 348 metre high peak. The aboriginal people have been badly treated in the past and at one point there were moves to eradicate them entirely by forcibly placing aboriginal children with white colonial families.

Australia has given back land to the Aboriginals and enacted anti discrimination legislation but the indigenous people are still third class citizens in their own country. The are many Australians who see them as being spongers and wastrels who spend their days drinking. Its a great shame that when the opportunity arises to put right a simple wrong the conservatives move to deny the Aboriginals their basic rights to religious respect and full control of their land.

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