Gonski delivers Human Rights Address

November 17, 2011 by J-Wire Staff
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Distinguished lawyer and businessman David Gonski delivered a crystal clear background and assessment of Australia’s Human Rights history as this year’s orator of the B’nai B’rith Human Rights Address.

David Gonsky and Ernie Friedlander

Gonski covered the long history of prejudice against the indigenous community and the fear of the “Yellow Peril” as Australians braced themselves for massive immigration from the north citing the White Australia policy which existed in the 1960s.

He recalled the male domination of society in Australia pointing out that in his class of 100 studying law and commerce at university there were only two females.

Talking about contemporary Australia, Gonski said: “My biggest worry is the gap that is developing between the haves and the have-nots.” He said that a generous spirit may not solve the entire problem but would at least “show we have a heart.”

In terms of future Australian immigrants, Gonski said that the country should focus on a person’s abilities and not what country they came from, or what religion or race.

He said: “So many of us have seen asylum-seekers as queue-jumpers and bad people. Some may be but we need to change our assumptions.” Gonski added that we should assume that asylum-seekers are legitimate unless proven otherwise.

Gonski also expressed concern about the recorded life expectancy of the Aboriginal community and as to how few of our indigenous population complete their education into year 12.

He completed the oration by saying that each and every Australian should do something to improve the rights of others. “To not do so would not be living up to what we are”.

More than 250 people attended the  oration held at Emanuel Synagogue in Woollahra and the evening was chaired by Ernie Friedlander, president of the  B’nai B’rith Alfred Dreyfus Anti-Defamation Unit.

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