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Cathy Freeman honoured

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  • Cathy Freeman honoured

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    Not before time. Today. For the very first time in Australian history a major stadium section was named after a woman. Cathy Freeman. At the Olympic Stadium in Sydney. But. Of course it was. Inevitable. Every Australian knows where they were that September night in 2000.

    Me? On my knees in front of the telly willin' Cathy on. Over the last 200. Tears in my eyes. But. Why all the reaction? It was only a race.

    A wider context.

    Before 1967. Aboriginal people were not considered human beings for the official census. They were regarded in the flora and fauna section. Let that just sink in for a moment.

    Really. Take a moment and consider that was the official government position by the then Tory party.

    So. A referendum was passed by a vast majority to right that injustice. Aboriginals ran for office and were elected. Lance Bonner. Charles Perkins.

    And why not. They have been the oldest continual civilization in the world stretchin' back 60,000 years. Have seen off the mega fauna and lived in harmony with the natural environment. Their Dreamin'.

    So. Reconciliation was in the air. In 1988 the Supreme Court finally acknowledged Native Title for large parts of Australia. The campaign was led by the elder Eddie Mabo. Related to Yothu Yindi of Treaty fame.

    Except. There was no treaty. Ever. Terra Nullias. An empty continent the English felt entitled to claim as theirs. Institutional racism followed. Stolen generations. Strychnine poisonin'. Genocide. Frontier Wars. Whole tribes pushed over cliffs in Tasmania.

    So. A lot of baggage to unpack that late September evenin' as Cathy knelt at the startin' blocks. A shy Aboriginal woman who had endeared herself with the whole nation. She had won Commonwealth gold so expectations were high. She had lit the openin' cauldron surrounded by a waterfall. There was no dress rehearsal. Top secret. The nation held it's breath.

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    But. Nothin' like the final. The Thorpedo and his mates had won a river of gold in the pool. But. Nothin' prepared the nation for this moment. A united nation. Black and white. Willin' this slight girl over 400 excruciatin' meters. And the 400 is long bustin'. I know. It was my event at school.

    So recently all the Matildas could only point to Cathy as a childhood inspiration. Not any more. Young girls can look at Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso. The pathways are now open. All open doorways. True pathways.

    So. Bravo Cathy. Quiet, strong people do win in the end.

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    In 6 weeks another referendum will be held about an enshrined advisory voice to parliament for Aboriginal people. Polls say it may be defeated.

    All I know. For one night. The nation was united. Thank you Cathy. You ran into Eternity.

    PS. 3 months earlier 250,000 people marched across the Sydney Harbour Bridge for Reconciliation. In the largest civic demonstration in the history of Australia.

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    Last edited by Gilly Goodness; 09-15-2023, 12:11 PM.