Rosalie Kunoth-Monks

Aboriginal activist Rosalie Kunoth-Monks talks social equality

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ACTOR and Aboriginal elder Rosalie Kunoth-Monks has launched a deeply moving defence of her traditional way of life stating “I am not the problem”.

The actor who starred as Jedda in Charles Chauvel’s classic Australian film of the same name, was praised on Twitter last night for delivering one of her most eloquent and passionate speeches yet, on the television show Q&A.

The show last night featured prominent older panellists including primatologist Jane Goodall, art educator Betty Churcher, Sydney Peace Foundation founder Stuart Rees as well as conservative intellectual and former Liberal MP Peter Coleman.

Discussion included whether John Pilger’s documentary about the Aboriginal peopleUtopia was helpful in contributing to reconciliation or was just indulging in white guilt.

Peter Coleman, former editor of Quadrant, said he thought Pilger’s documentary was dreadful and that the award-winning author hated Australian society.

“I think the impact of it is to reject all of the effort that has been put in to advancing this Aboriginal cause,” Mr Coleman said.

Assimilation is the way forward: Peter Coleman comments as part of Q&A panel

Assimilation is the way forward: Peter Coleman comments as part of Q&A panel Source: Supplied

Earlier he highlighted the programs aimed at assisting Aboriginal people, “church missions, government welfare, the intervention, apologies, billions of dollars and so on”.

“The problem has not been solved and it’s not going to be easy to solve,” Mr Coleman said.

He suggested that his own solution would be “assimilation integration”.

“I mean, the full monty, not just schooling or something, but intermarriage, all forms of integration.”

But Ms Kunoth-Monks, who remained silent during Mr Coleman’s remarks, visibly bristled at being described as the “problem”.

 

Rosalie Kunoth-Monk with Robert Tudawali in a scene from the 1954 film Jedda.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monk with Robert Tudawali in a scene from the 1954 film Jedda. Source: News Limited

 

“You know I have a culture, I am a cultured person,” she said, peppering her speech with words in her native language.

“I am not something that fell out of the sky for the pleasure of somebody putting another culture into this cultured being,” she said. “John (Pilger) shows what is an ongoing denial of me.”

“I am not an Aboriginal, or indeed indigenous, I am … (a) first nation’s person. A sovereign person from this country.

“I speak my language, and I practise my cultural essence of me.

“Don’t try and suppress me, and don’t call me a problem, I am not the problem.”

Afterwards Twitter lit up with praise for Ms Kunoth-Monks’ words.