Freedom Ride Finds Reconciliation at the Grassroots

Phil Glendenning, Director of the Edmund Rice Centre and National President of Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR), today welcomed home participants in the Freedom Ride 2005. The Freedom Ride 2005 was organized by the ReconciliACTION Network, and supported by ANTaR and the Edmund Rice Centre.

The Ride retraced the path taken by Dr Charles Perkins and a group of university students around NSW to highlight segregation and discrimination. The Ride, a landmark in the Aboriginal civil rights movement, led to widespread changes through the state and the country. The Freedom Ride 2005 marked the 40th anniversary of the original Ride.

“The original Freedom Ride found an ugly side of Australia, one marked by segregation and racism. The Ride was an important part of the broader movement to achieve legal equality for Indigenous Australians” Mr Glendenning said.

“Today we welcome home these young people who are paying tribute to the legacy of that original Ride, and who have gone to meet with communities to find out what has changed and what still needs to be done.”

“The bad news is that Aboriginal people continue to face daily discrimination. They face discrimination in shops, in real estate agencies and when applying for jobs. Their communities do not have the services of non-Indigenous communities. And in some cases they are the victims of overt violence because of their race." 

“The good news is that change is happening. Around NSW the latest Freedom Ride has found progress. Indigenous children are learning their own language, communities are coming together to reclaim their shared history and Indigenous people are developing their own services.” 

“Speaking to the Freedom Riders it is clear that these successful initiatives have one thing in common – they are happening at the grass roots. Indigenous communities are showing real leadership in creating their own solutions, often in spite of governments.”

 “There is a message here for both the government and for the community. We need to support people in their local communities. We need to support Indigenous people who are running programs for their own communities. Self-determination is working, we cannot return to assimilation or ‘mainstreaming’. Fortunately, the people’s movement for Reconciliation is continuing to grow, and is making a real difference.” Mr Glendenning said.

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