By Liz McMurrich
PERTH — More than 3000 Aborigines and non-Aboriginal people marched and rallied on here August 13 to demand recognition of Aboriginal land rights.
Speakers included Aboriginal activists Ted Wilkes, Clarrie Issacs, Colleen Hayward, Rob Riley, Pat Dudgeon, Ernie Bridge, Devon Taylor; Anglican archbishop Peter Carnley and Perth Trades and Labor Council assistant secretary Tony Cooke.
Ted Wilkes, chairperson of the rally committee, opened the day with a call for a peaceful march. The day was an opportunity for all Australians to accept Aboriginal native title and begin to live together peacefully, he said. To this there was a loud and welcome response. He explained that the High Court's Mabo decision did not mean that Aborigines' were claiming of people's backyards, but was simply a long overdue recognition of that Aboriginal people had inhabited Australia before white settlement. He called for an end to the current racist hysteria around the Mabo decision.
Other speakers echoed these sentiments. Devon Taylor, speaking on behalf of Aboriginal youth, said Mabo was a social justice issue effecting Aboriginal youth.
Well-known Aboriginal activist Clarrie Issacs took the opportunity to slam both Liberal and Labor parties for their hypocrisy and "stagnant rhetoric" on Aboriginal issues.
Following the march, supporters heard a poem by written especially for the occasion by Graham Dickson, and were entertained by an Aboriginal dance troupe.