Speeches: Indigenous Australians and Past Injustices

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Great speeches resonate with an audience because of the powerful and enduring ideas that are expressed in a well crafted oration.

Speeches that encompass compelling ideas will remain with an audience for a lifetime, continue to dwell in our minds and remain relevant to our present context. The issues of reconciliation between Aborigines and non-ind Australians as well as the issue of how to respond to the past injustices suffered by Aboriginals are two timeless issues explored in Noel Pearson’s “An Australian History For Us All” and Faith Bandler’s “Faith, Hope and Reconciliation”.

While Pearson’s speech was delivered at an academic gathering, Bandler had a more mixed audience including mainly Indigenous peoples and politicians, both supporting and opposing additional rights for aboriginal people. Pearson’s and Bandler’s speeches were both written in the 1990s, a contentious and heated time in relation ind issues. Pearson’s speech, in particular, was a response to the changing attitudes of the newly elected Howard government in 1996, who took the view that present day Australians shouldn’t feel responsible for the past injustices done to the aborigines- a different view from the previous Keating government. Bandler’s speech was a response to the entire Australian population’s inability to accept the guilt of the past, which she felt was hindering the progress of reconciliation between Aborigines and Europeans. Both Pearson, a high profile indigenous activist, and Bandler, a highly respected civil rights activist, gave their speeches in an attempt to take a step forward in the quest to conquer the differences between aborigines and other Australians and explore the ways the country as a whole could move forward from the horrible past.

The focus of resolving the problem of how to respond to the past injustices against Aborigines, as well as the issue of national identity, were the basis on which Pearson’s speech was formed. Bandler’s content historically...
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