Blackfella, whitefella: The Doctor’s speech about being Australian

ABOVE: Dr Trevor Tierney and Amanda Close sit at the Australia Day table together in Bonalbo. Photo: Susanna Freymark

Susanna Freymark

In a village, nestling in the mountains in the western corner of the Northern Rivers, the Australia Day address by the town’s former doctor was not what everyone expected.

Dr Trevor Tierney used the moment to offer his ideas about not only changing the day we celebrate being Australian but how we do it.

Kindness was the key, he said.

His ideas were as controversial as playing the Warumpi Band’s Blackfella, Whitefella song at the end of this speech.

About Australia. About the past.

Isn’t it time we changed the date to a day where we can truly unite?

Here’s a summary of what Dr Tierney said in Bonalbo on Australia Day.

“I was known as Doctor Talk-A-Lot.

When I came to Bonalbo, the original Githabul family John and Gladys Close welcomed me and my family.

Humans survived not because of the ‘survival of the fittest’ but because we were the kindest. We learned from each other.

My list of what we (Australia) must do.

Honour all Aboriginal Australians.

Education is the key to change. Charles Perkins was the first Aboriginal university graduate. They’re ( Aboriginal Australians) not going back to the mish, and they’re not going back to prison.

We must adopt the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Dr Tierney read the Uluru Statement from the Heart and spoke about Makarrata, mentioned in the statement, which is the coming together after a struggle.

We must change Australia Day to a more meaningful day.

I suggest Federation Day on January 1, but that would deprive us of a public holiday.

Other questions he posed about the nation

Do we abolish private and religious schools as they did in France?

Do we have a military gap year for students after school?

Should we remove all state governments and be like New Zealand?

(Above all) we must show kindness to others.

Dr Trevor Tierney grooves to the Warumpi Band song Blackfella, Whitefella. Photo: Susanna Freymark
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