“In the past week, three Aboriginal people have died in police custody. How many of you know that it’s thirty years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and in that time, there have been over 455 deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Sue-Anne Hunter shares her powerful speech, spoken from her ancestral lands at the March For Justice in Narrm, on Monday 15 March 2021.
Aboriginal women have been resisting white male violence since 26th Jan 1788. Patriarchy and the violence that goes hand in hand with it came to these to shores on a ship.
Let me tell the story of Cammeraygal woman Barangaroo. A leader and cultural authority and holder of Cammeraygal lore, she was the fourth wife of Bennelong. When a white woman stole fishing gear from her clan, Barangaroo physically intervened to stop her from being flogged in the white settlement.
Barangaroo was the one to stand up against Governor Arthur Phillip. She refused to dress in western clothes; she refused to speak in English. In defiance of Governor Phillip, she broke her spears, and in doing so, she declared war.
In the pattern of white male retaliation that set the course for Australia, Governor Phillip then ordered the fishing of 3,000 fish from Cammeraygal waters in one day, in a direct assault on the main food source of the Eora nations.
This declaration of war by Barangaroo was the origin of Aboriginal’s women leadership against white male violence on our continent.
Barangaroo was fighting to save lives. Both black and white. Governor Phillip was ordering decapitations and acting as the coroner, sitting in judgement on the killings that he caused.
Morrison is the successor of Governor Arthur Phillip. It’s still the white men who commit the crimes and it’s the white men who judge their innocence.
Aboriginal women have fought against gendered violence perpetrated by white men since day one. The allegations, cover up and silence on gendered violence in federal parliament is part of the same system of abuse and the same lack of legal and political consequences. Enough is Enough.
In the past week, three Aboriginal people have died in police custody.
How many of you have been outraged by this?
How many of you know that it’s thirty years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and in that time, there have been over 455 deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Did you know that fifteen families, whose loved ones are amongst those who have died in custody, have come together to call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to meet with them face to face in April, on the thirty year anniversary of the day that the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report was handed down? He has refused.
Aboriginal people are aware of the contrast between the Prime Minister’s invitation to meet with a delegation of woman from March For Justice and his refusal to meet with these 15 directly affected families.
Like Barangaroo before me, I march with all women, and for all women. I march so that we see justice under the continual brutality of the Settler-Colonial patriarchy.
It is my hope that all women, and beyond that, all people, regardless of privilege or social status, see each other, REALLY see each other for EVERYTHING we are. We need to join together commit to one another as equal and honoured sisters and brothers and finally see justice through.
To hell with patriarchy.
(I acknowledge I am not a descendant of Barangaroo; in telling some of her story I honour her and her ancestors. I am a Wurundjeri woman descendant of Annie Boorat)
by Sue-Anne Hunter