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Pat Anderson: The Fight for Indigenous Rights

Pat Anderson at UNSW's annual Gandhi oration

Despite taking steps towards becoming a more equal and inclusive society for all, Australia has a problem with human rights. Indigenous Australians are the most incarcerated in the world. More than one woman is killed every week by a partner or former partner. Over half of Australians living with a disability lack access to support services they need. The proposed Religious Discrimination Bill threatens to undermine inclusive workplaces for LGBTQI+ people.  

Fighting to address these issues are five fearless human rights champions. From the Australian voice to the United Nations for people living with a disability, to leading the #KidsOffNauru campaign which saw every child detained offshore brought to Australia, their resumes are enviable and inspiring portfolios of human rights advocacy.   

The annual Gandhi Lecture is hosted by UNSW Sydney close to India’s Martyrs’ Day, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in 1948.  The event features people making significant contributions to the major human rights issues of our time. Speakers have included journalist Shoma Chaudhury, author Dr Hugh Mackay AO, journalist Peter Greste and Senator Pat Dodson.

I’m not saying we have all the answers, but as First Nations people we have accumulated 65,000 years worth of knowledge about how to care for this land.

Pat Anderson AO

Pat Anderson

Pat Anderson is an Alyawarre woman and a powerful advocate for the health of Australia’s First Peoples. She has extensive experience in community development, advocacy, policy formation and has been the chair of multiple Aboriginal health organisations. She has spoken before the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous People, published many essays and reports, and was awarded the Human Rights Medal by the Australian Human Rights Commission. 


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Photo credit: Prudence Upton

This talk was presented as part of the 2020 Gandhi Oration.

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