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"Stain On Our Soul" - Australia Parliament OKs Historic Bill On Aboriginals

THE AUSTRALIAN, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, ABC NEWS (Australia)

Worldcrunch

CANBERRA – Australia’s lower house of Parliament unanimously passed a historic bill on Wednesday recognizing Aboriginals as the first inhabitants of Australia.

Parliament voted in favor of an act of recognition which commits Australia to changing its Constitution to acknowledge indigenous Australians, reports the Australian. Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott put their differences aside, joining together in what the Australian called a “momentous symbolic gesture.”

Both leaders committed themselves to address what Julia Gillard called ""the unhealed wound that even now lies open at the heart of our national story"" and Tony Abbott called ""this stain on our soul,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The bill has a two-year clause forcing Parliament to introduce a referendum to change the Constitution to acknowledge Australia's indigenous people.

Prime Minister Gillard said, "We must never feel guilt for the things already done in this nation's history. But we can and must feel responsibility for the things that remain undone.”

"No gesture speaks more deeply to the healing of our nation's fabric than amending our nation's founding charter," Gillard told Parliament.

Read her full speech here.

Australia is on the path to a referendum to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution. TeamJG

— Julia Gillard (@JuliaGillard) February 13, 2013

The legislation passed with unanimous support, and was greeted with applause from the public gallery, writes ABC news.

Aboriginal rights activist Patrick Dodson welcomed the passage of the bill but said there was a lot more to be done: “"The passing of the Act of Recognition today is one hill we have climbed but it does not mean we have conquered the mountain," he said.

— National Congress(@congressmob) February 13, 2013

Singer-songwriter Mandawuy Yunupingu calls on all Australians to support the recognition of Aboriginals in the constitution:

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Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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