2018 marks the 30th year since Bob Hawke’s visit to Barunga and the delivery of the famous ‘Barunga Statement’
On the 12 June 1988, during Australia's bicentennial year, Prime Minister Bob Hawke was presented with the Barunga Statement at the annual Barunga cultural and sporting festival.
Written on bark, the Statement called for Aboriginal self-management, a national system of land rights, compensation for loss of lands, respect for Aboriginal identity, an end to discrimination, and the granting of full civil, economic, social and cultural rights.
The Prime Minister responded by saying that he wished to conclude a treaty between Aboriginal and other Australians by 1990, but his wish was not fulfilled.
Yothu Yindi wrote the worldwide hit song "Treaty" to commemorate the statement. Lead singer Mandawuy Yunupingu, with his older brother Galarrwuy, wanted to highlight the lack of progress on the treaty between Aboriginal peoples and the Federal Government. Mandawuy Yunupingu said:
"Bob Hawke visited the Territory. He went to this gathering in Barunga. And this is where he made a statement that there shall be a treaty between black and white Australia. Sitting around the camp fire, trying to work out a chord to the guitar, and around that camp fire, I said, "Well, I heard it on the radio. And I saw it on the television." That should be a catchphrase. And that's where 'Treaty' was born".
The Barunga Statement
Presented to Prime Minister Bob Hawke by Galarrwuy Yunupingu and Wenten Rubuntja
We, the Indigenous owners and occupiers of Australia, call on the Australian Government and people to recognise our rights:
to self-determination and self-management, including the freedom to pursue our own economic, social, religious and cultural development;
to permanent control and enjoyment of our ancestral lands;
to compensation for the loss of use of our lands, there having been no extinction of original title;
to protection of and control of access to our sacred sites, sacred objects, artefacts, designs, knowledge and works of art;
to the return of the remains of our ancestors for burial in accordance with our traditions;
to respect for and promotion of our Aboriginal identity, including the cultural, linguistic, religious and historical aspects, and including the right to be educated in our own languages and in our own culture and history;
in accordance with the universal declaration of human rights, the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, the international covenant on civil and political rights, and the international convention on :the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, rights to life, liberty, security of person, food, clothing, housing, medical care, education and employment opportunities, necessary social services and other basic rights.
We call on the Commonwealth to pass laws providing:
A national elected Aboriginal and Islander organisation to oversee Aboriginal and Islander affairs;
A national system of land rights;
A police and justice system which recognises our customary laws and frees us from discrimination and any activity which may threaten our identity or security, interfere with our freedom of expression or association, or otherwise prevent our full enjoyment and exercise of universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We call on the Australian Government to support Aborigines in the development of an international declaration of principles for indigenous rights, leading to an international covenant.
And we call on the Commonwealth Parliament to negotiate with us a Treaty recognising our prior ownership, continued occupation and sovereignty and affirming our human rights and freedom.