One Story Of Australia’s Connection With Nelson Mandela

By Barbara Miller 9.12.13 

With the passing of Nelson Mandela, the world mourns but also celebrates the life of an extra-ordinary man of great vision, great passion for justice, a model of humility, forgiveness, grace, dignity and perseverance. He was a courageous leader, a world statesman, a man of great maturity and compassion, one who made the hard decisions with love. As the accolades pour in from everywhere, we know the world is richer for his life. Not only is he the father of South Africa but he is a father to all those who choose reconciliation instead of bitterness, love rather than hate and understanding rather than fear.

There are undoubtedly many stories of the lives touched by Nelson Mandela. There are undoubtedly many stories of people and nations who worked to change South Africa’s apartheid policies and bring freedom and dignity to the people. One such story is told via an extract from my book about an Aboriginal pioneer for civil rights in Australia – William Cooper.

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William Cooper’s Descendant Used “Bolt Law” To Challenge Racial Vilification

By Barbara Miller 10.12.13

‘We’re so pleased with the outcome, for all our people,’ said Dr Atkinson, an academic. ‘Especially for the younger people coming through, who really shouldn’t have to deal with that continual stuff to have to justify their identity.’[1]

This was the response of one of the applicants, Dr Wayne Atkinson, a descendant of pioneer Aboriginal civil rights campaigner, William Cooper.  It referred to the case of Eatock v Bolt where columnist Andrew Bolt was successfully taken to court by a group of Aborigines using Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Many conservatives were upset at the outcome and Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, has set it as his first task in government to remove or weaken Section 18C which has become known as “Bolt’s law”.

There has been a flood of objections to the government’s plan to abolish or emasculate race hate laws. Leaders of Indigenous and ethnic groups have combined in signing a statement of concern about the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act – the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Arab Council of Australia, the Chinese Australian Forum, the Australian Hellenic Council, the Lebanese Muslim Association and the Armenian National Council of Australia.[2]

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