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Truth-telling a major step on Queensland’s path to treaty

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford says it is time for Queenslanders to confront the past.

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The Palaszczuk government has committed to a treaty with indigenous people, and, after handing down key reports last year, appointed an advancement committee. Co-chairs Dr Jackie Huggins AM and Mick Gooda will be joined by committee members Emeritus Professor Michael Lavarch AO, Dr Josephine Bourne and former Brisbane lord mayor Sallyanne Atkinson AO.

Crawford, who is also the Member for Barron River, this week gave parliament an indication of the conversations needing to be had by all Queenslanders, not just the committee.

“Truth-telling will allow us to come together, to listen to each other’s experiences, and to understand what this has meant for us personally and as a community,” Crawford said.

“We shouldn’t underestimate how important the truth telling part of this journey will be to healing the wounds that have accrued over 250 years of recent history.”

Crawford said the importance of truth-telling recently “crystallised” for him during community visits and conversations.

At an event in Brisbane to mark the 13th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, Crawford said he heard “heartbreaking” stories from Aunty Lorraine Peeters and Uncle Robert West, members of the stolen generation.

“The reality is that the wounds of the past are yet to heal,” he said.

“Children who were stolen were stripped of their connection to family, land, culture and language. Taken to homes and institutions, many suffered abuse and neglect. There can be no greater suffering for a parent than the loss of a child.”

During a visit to Cherbourg, Crawford was given a tour of the Aboriginal community’s old Ration Shed by Uncle Eric Law.

“Standing in the boy’s dormitory, I could literally feel the spirit of those children who had been removed there,” Crawford told parliament.

“Many of those children removed, have gone on to become mothers and fathers. Raising their own families while grappling with the lasting impacts of forced removal, and the ongoing fear of losing their children through contemporary policy arrangements.”

Crawford said that only by confronting and addressing the injustices of the past, and acknowledging the rightful place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, could all Queenslanders work together for a better future.

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