21. Our Dream

Our Dream

A New Tomorrow


ATSIC was closed down in 2004, but Aboriginal land councils, medical, legal and children’s services, educational, cultural, legal, political and family link-up groups, thousands of organisations, still fight for justice. They are joined by reconciliation groups and Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) across the country. And Aboriginal enterprises.

Ignorance and racism have constantly held back the regrowth of Aboriginal culture, and recognition of Aboriginal rights. But in 1992, the High Court rejected terra nullius’ as ‘wrong in fact and in law’. This means that the law of the land no longer accepts that Australia was land belonging to no one.

To Aboriginal Australians, and many other Australians, the end of terra nullius meant much more. Patrick Dodson, founding chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, explained it this way in 1994:


“Australia faces a very important challenge to improve the relationship between the nation’s indigenous peoples and the wider community. We need to show that we are capable of resolving the causes of disharmony and injustice that have so often marked this relationship, and to work towards a future based on justice and equity… We believe every Australian can take a positive step to better relationships and understanding. We believe we need to become better at working with what we have in common to better deal with what divides us…We invite all Australians to share our vision and to work to make it a reality.”

Our Vision


“A united Australia that respects this land of ours, values the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and provides justice and equity for all.”

A Song of Hope

By Oodgeroo of Noonuccal

Look up, my people,

The dawn is breaking,

The world is waking

To a new bright day,

When none will defame us,

No restriction tame us,

Nor colour shame us,

Nor sneer dismay.

Now brood no more

On the years behind you,

The hope assigned you

Shall the past replace,

When a juster justice

Grown wiser and stronger

Points the bone no longer

At a darker race.

So long we waited

Bound and frustrated,

Till hate be hated

And caste deposed;

Now light shall guide us,

No goal denied us

And all doors open

That long were closed.

See plain the promise,

Dark freedom-lover!

Night’s nearly over,

And though long the climb

New rights will greet us,

New mateship meet us,

And joy complete us

In our new Dream Time.

To our father’s fathers

The pain, the sorrow;

To our children’s children

The glad tomorrow.

Kath Walker wrote this poem as part of the Aboriginal protest movement of the 1960s. It shows the spirit of hope for the future that still prevails in the struggles for justice and change in Australia. Kath Walker changed her name to Oodgeroo of the Tribe Noonuccal in protest at the 1988 Bicentennial (‘oodgeroo’ means paperbark in her language).

Our Dream


This is Our Land

you cannot dispute it

This is Our Land

nor can you refute it

This is Our Land

You can gouge at our heart

This is Our Land

You can tear us apart – but


Nothin’s goin’ to stop our dream

Nothin’s goin’ to stop our dream

Nothin’s goin’ to stop our dream

Or the hope or the new tomorrow

This is Our Land –

You kill the forests and grasses

This is Our Land

But through life as it passes

This is Our Land and

This is our stand

In pain and in splendour

We will never surrender