02 November 2011
My dear Torres Strait Friends,
You are now in possession of full Australian citizenship. That new state does not only grant you more rights but also imposes on you higher duties and, thus, enables you to show that you are worthy to receive the same treatment as your fellow-citizens in the south....The other way to convince your fellow-citizens consists in showing further achievements. This cannot be difficult for you as you are known to be an intelligent and talented race...Your work as craftsmen, railway employees, salesmen, office clerks and teachers is as good as that of others....If you intend to give your very best, do never imitate white people, for attempt to do so would lead you away from your own selves. But rather develop the qualities which you yourselves possess, to its full extent. Serve God and this country with everything you have, and everything you are, your language, your music, your knowledge of land, sea, and nature, and so on.
- Reverend Dr Wilhelm Rechnitz (written some time after the 1967 referendum which removed discriminatory references to indigenous peoples from the Australian Constitution)
* from Tom Mosby, 'Welcome home to Torres Straits where you had left your heart and went away empty', in The Torres Strait Islands, Queensland Art Gallery/Queensland Museum/ Queensland Performing Arts Centre/State Library of Queensland, 2011
© Telinga Media. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited