Reconciling past racism

A move of reconciliation with non Indigenous victims of past racist actions has been supported by various Councils across Australia. In 1861, European, English, Irish and American miners at Lambing Flat near Young in NSW rioted against Chinese miners forcing them from the goldfields, and precursing the 'Immigration Restriction Act' infamously known as the 'White Australia Policy.'

Last year, Young Shire Council voted unanimously to establish the Lambing Flat Chinese Tribute Gardens 'in recognition of the contribution of the Chinese people to the settlement of Young in the 1860s and to the ongoing contributions of the Chinese community to Australia as a nation'.

To create a monument of national significance, the Shire has established a Foundation. Many well known Australians have become Patrons, including former Prime Ministers Gough Whitlam, Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke. Foundation members also include Henry Tsang, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney and television personalities Roy Slavin and H G Nelson.

Among the various Councils that have donated to the project is Pine Creek Community Government Council in the Northern Territory. Acknowledging the part Chinese immigrants played in its own development, the mining industry and Northern Territory as a whole, the Pine Creek community donated $1,000 to the Foundation.

With just 700 residents, Gaye Lawrence, President of Pine Creek, said that this is a great effort for such a small community. The Lambing Flat Gardens will include a monument listing all individuals, organisations and Councils supporting the project.

The project has been endorsed by Sydney's Chinese business and community leaders and the Chinese Embassy. It has already attracted national and international media attention at a time when racism has been threatening to recur in Australia. The first and second stages of the Gardens are to be formally opened on Australia Day 1998.

Described by the Professor of Landscape Architecture at Canberra University, Eugene Herbert, as 'the most exciting project being undertaken in Australia at the moment', they are expected to prove a huge tourist attraction. Most importantly they will stand as a monument to a harmonious future marked by goodwill in ethnic relations.

For further information contact Mayor Tony Hewson at Young Shire, telephone (02) 6382 1688.