Transcript: Ken Colbung reflects for British journalists on the Aboriginal rights movement and the significance of Yagan.

Video length: 2 minutes, 31 seconds

Speaker: Mr Ken Colbung, AM MBE, London UK 1997

What Yagan did in his day was to sort of bring about the fact that we're human, we’re all together, hopefully. On the one cause to take part in this Earth. To be able to operate. Not because of pigmentation politics, but because we understand each other and that our attitudes are going to be forthcoming, that will be blending, that will make us understand that we are humans.

We’re nothing short of ... and I can remember as a child when they said that we weren’t humans at all and we had to cower against the fence. At six o’clock in the evening the mothers and fathers gather us and take us out of the town, six miles out. We had to leave the town site. We had one toilet in the whole of Perth for Aboriginal people and the rest of the toilets were for white people.

We could not travel in the carriages with them. We had to travel in separate ‘native’ carriages and they were attached to the trains that picked up the stock – the animals and the fruit for the markets. And then there were no toilets in the stations, we had to go to the bush because they said we came from the bush and therefore we don’t need toilets. And this is indicative then, I’m 66 years of old. It’s not hundreds of years we’re talking about. It’s only within the past fifty years that those sorts of things were here. In 1956 some of those walls were broken down.

So I have lived through it. I can understand the ignominy of being something different and separate and I wouldn’t have it for any person in England or anywhere in the world, to be different, and that’s what Yagan wanted. He wanted all of us to be understood as being human. As a part of the Earth. We are part of the Earth as much as trees are, as much as animals are. We’ll all enjoy it and with our cultural trend of tokenism, because we have a token, we have to respect certain animals, that we have to look after them. That we have to look after the trees and the rivers and that hasn’t been done unfortunately in Australia.

We would hope by the year 2000 there would be a changing attitude and the fact that Britain can start the thing off by giving us the skull of Yagan, to go back and honour that as a precedent, I think would be a great thing.