Stan Grant UNSW Wallace Wurth Speech Excerpt
Indigenous broadcaster Stan Grant has delivered an impassioned speech, describing his “pulsating rage” and “simmering resentment” about the way Aboriginal youths have been treated.
Delivering a public lecture at the University of New South Wales, Grant said he was moved to speak openly after witnessing last week’s Four Corners report on the abuse of children in juvenile detention in the Northern Territory.
In his own words, Grant intended to deliver a more “measured” speech but felt too strongly about the issue.
“I cannot give that speech tonight. That speech may have come from my head, but tonight I have to speak from my heart,” he said.
Grant also called for a broader Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as well as a treaty with Indigenous Australians.
The Four Corners report contained graphic footage of prison guards stripping, assaulting and mistreating a teenage boy, who was one of six children tear-gassed at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin in 2014.
Grant admitted that critics who said he had given Australia too much credit were correct.
“This week I have struggled to contain a pulsating rage,” he said.
“I have moved from boiling anger to simmering resentment; but the feeling has not passed, nor have I wanted it to.
“What offences we’ve seen this past week.
“How can I stand here and speak to the idea of our place in an indissoluble Commonwealth, when this week my people have been reminded yet again that our place is so often behind this nation’s bars?
“This week, my people know what Australia looks like. This week, Australia is a boy in a hood in a cell.”
Video: CCTV shows minor being gassed by prison guards (ABC News)
Grant urges a treaty that speaks to ‘the hooded, beaten boys’
The broadcaster fought back tears as he recalled the pain of watching the Four Corners report — “the boys who look like my boys” — with his teenage son.
“I watched my teenage son as he saw this unfold before him,” Grant said.
“I saw him lose his place in the world. With each scene of horror, he became less sure of his country.”
Grant then argued that Malcolm Turnbull’s royal commission call fell short.
He said little had changed since a royal commission into black deaths in custody two decades ago and called for a different type of commission.
“Rather than the royal commission, perhaps it is now time for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission: a full reckoning of our nation’s past that may set loose the chains of history that bind this country’s first people and hold us still so miserably impoverished,” he said.
“In my caution in the past, I’ve argued against such things, fearing it would potentially harden division.
“After this week I accept that more than ever we need this mirror into our soul.”
Grant urged Australia to look to the examples of New Zealand, the United States and Canada, and negotiate a treaty with its Indigenous population.
“Treaty, even unattainable, sings to the heart of Indigenous people here in a way that recognition cannot,” he said.
“We need to infuse it with the urgency of now. It needs to speak to substance, not symbolism.
“It needs to speak with hope to the hooded, beaten boys in dark prison cells.”
By Christine Kearney
© 2016 ABC