Wayne Wharton


It is time black Australia began "a conversation" with white Australia, says indigenous leader Wayne Wharton.

"You have the ability to take this to the next step," the spokesman for the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy in Musgrave Park told almost 2000 protesters resting at the site after this weekend's People's March.


Musgrave Park Sovereign Embassy spokesman Wayne Wharton speaks after the People's March.

Mr Wharton said during the 1970s and 1980s Aboriginal people saw the establishment of land rights and self-management of their communities.

"We saw our first black mayors at Cherbourg, at Palm Island and at Woorabinda," he said.

"They were the first steps towards self determination."


Wayne believes Aboriginal people should be proud they were part of a process that accepted other groups opposing the establishment.

He said the People's March - which included students and people campaigning about climate change and environmental issues - were evidence of that.

"You were strong enough to accept responsibility for all these people who came here with you," he said.

"And you did it with style."

However, Wayne was critical of the former ATSIC regional councillors and commissioners who did not attend the march or raise their voice during G20.

He said their inaction had "killed our mob" - Shame!" he said.

Mr Wharton told the crowd it was time to "grow up" and the next step was "a real conversation" with white Australia.

"It is easy to run after a microphone, it's easy to talk on the keyboard or on Facebook, it's easy to talk," he said.

"But you've got to grow up your families, grow up your communities and grow up your nation."

Mr Wharton said white Australia was yet to come to grips with its indigenous past.

"It is not a black question, it is not a white question, it is not a yellow question, it is not a red question," he said to loud applause and clicking of rhythm sticks.

"It is a human question. It is an Australian question."

Mr Wharton said Aboriginal people recognised democracy and said people needed to remind themselves they voted in their own representatives.

"People makes laws, people make governments," he said.

He called on Aboriginal people to "create the conversation" about wider self-determination and to set the agenda.

"We need to create the conversation," he said.

"We need to have the courage, to have the strength, to have the pride to be able to have the conversation.

"On a train, on a bus, on a ferry, in a classroom, with your neighbour.

"We need to have the conversation."

He said unless there was a wider debate of indigenous issues, about co-existence, there would remain "a Cold War" situation in Australia, "us and them, you and me".