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Black Lives Matter

Friday, June 12, 2020

“In Australia, we are all living on the stolen lands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and have a responsibility to end racism, individually and collectively. While it is understood that history cannot be rewritten, it is crucial that we don’t falsify it in order to stay comfortable in ignorance. To truly reconcile the truth must be told, the truth must be acknowledged, and the truth must never be forgotten.” – Michael Perusco, Berry Street CEO

It has been a momentous and challenging fortnight.

The Black Lives Matter movement has been at the global forefront. The world has been outraged over the death of George Floyd. America’s police brutality and racism has triggered Australia to reflect on its own racist and shameful history to date. Following the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991, 432 Aboriginal people have died in custody - with justice never to be served for one person. This is alarming, disgraceful and unacceptable.

Aboriginal people have the highest rates of suicide in the world. While there has been intense media coverage on Black Lives Matter and during Reconciliation Week, three Aboriginal people ended their lives in Victoria last week. It is truly devastating that the longest living culture in the world is experiencing this trauma as a result of invasion.

This year, Berry Street held a Reconciliation Week event focussing on the prevalence of racism in this country. We recognised a proactive approach was needed and that we would not wait until an incident occurred to address racism. To combat racism, Berry Street is committed to supporting staff to call out racism whenever we see it and to speak out against these injustices. We must turn good will into real action. Please join me in supporting anti-racism.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that “there was no slavery in Australia”. This ongoing fabrication and falsifying of information regarding our national history is an outrage and continues to jeopardise Australia truly reconciling. Sadly, and shamefully, the nation has a history rich in slavery. Aboriginal children were stolen from their families and put onto missions, raised for child labour. Aboriginal women and men were forced to be unpaid slaves which lasted for decades. Denying this disables the country in moving forward.

Berry Street is committed to truth-telling. Please read this article in The Guardian in response to the Prime Minister’s comments and share this information with others.