While Pearsons speech was delivered at an academic gathering, Bandler had a more mixed audience including mainly Indigenous peoples and politicians, both supporting and opposing additional rights for aboriginal people. Pearsons and Bandlers speeches were both written in the 1990s, a contentious and heated time in relation ind issues.
Pearsons speech, in particular, was a response to the changing attitudes of the newly elected Howard government in 1996, who took the view that present day Australians shouldnt feel responsible for the past injustices done to the aborigines- a different view from the previous Keating government. Bandlers speech was a response to the entire Australian populations inability to accept the guilt of the past, which she felt was hindering the progress of reconciliation between Aborigines and Europeans.
Both Pearson, a high profile indigenous activist, and Bandler, a highly respected civil rights activist, gave their speeches in an attempt to take a step forward in the quest to conquer the differences between aborigines and other Australians and explore the ways the country as a whole could move forward from the horrible past. The focus of resolving the problem of how to respond to the past injustices against Aborigines, as well as the issue of national identity, were the basis on which Pearsons speech was formed.
Bandlers content historically and culturally remained similar to the key concepts and values of Pearsons speech, such as the injustices towards Aborigines, however, she went on to explain further about their struggle into the present time and discuss the issue and controversy over the White Australia Policy tying into the cultural aspect of the fight about land ownership and recognition and reconciliation for Aborigines by the Australian Government and society.
Guilt about Australias colonial history was the hot button issue hovering in the national consciousness that gave purpose to Pearsons speech. He believed that the debate [was] about how Australians should respond to the past, as Howard had no trouble accepting that we treated Aboriginals very, very badly in the past, yet felt that to tell children whose parents were no part of that maltreatment, to tell children who themselves have been no part in it, that were all part of a sort of racist, bigoted history is something that Australians reject.
In response to Howards criticisms of the black armband view of Aboriginal history, Pearson promotes discussion about the complexities of the past, rather than promoting notions of guilt, yet there is clear condemnation of Howards politicisation of the situation and the issue. Pearson disagreed with Howards approach of speaking inclusively for Australians and believed Howards propagandist version of history distorted reality.
Rather than dwelling on the injustices that were committed, Pearsons aim is to continue the progress being made towards a new Australian history which tells the story of the other side of the frontier and acknowledges Aboriginal achievement, death and sacrifice. The challenging of her audience to take up the task of achieving reconciliation gives purpose to Bandlers speech. She spoke from personal experience, sketching the efforts of those who had struggled to improve Indigenous rights as well as uncovering those who deliberately turned a blind eye to the past.
She criticised those who had actively blocked or condemned the campaigns for justice and equity whilst also acknowledging those who despite having different cultures and different political beliefs, accepted the need for healing the wounds and indignities of the past. Bandler found the acceptance of suffering on the basis of differences was incomprehensible, asking her audience why is it so hard to find our commonalities? Her overall aim was to move forward, and she acknowledged the tremendous odds that had to be faced in doing this.
Her belief was that decent citizens recognised the need for reconciliation, and those who were deliberately blinkered and held a negative outlooks were not wanted or needed. Pearson uses divisive language to distinguish between indigenous and European Australians through the repetition of you, as well as inclusive language, with repeated reference to our nation and the action that we have to take to correct the injustices of the past.
These techniques facilitate Pearsons depiction of Aboriginal right as being social, political, legal and religious concerns for the nation as a whole. Colloquial terms and cliches such as Geoffrey Blaineys black armband view of history allow Pearson to connect with his audience and employ terms being used in the media debate. Emotive language and the juxtaposition of negative diction, a legacy of unutterable shame with more positive terms such as celebration and spirit of compromise show the need for reconciliation as well as bringing an emotional response from the audience.
Bandlers speech, however, was spoken on a direct, more personal level to her audience, addressing them as her friends and dear friends, inviting them to feel part of a movement that she has campaigned long and hard for. She mentions specific dates, names and legislation to legitimise her observations and to give background context for her audience. The use of emotive language in her mention of her fellow activists who had lived, breathed, struggled and climbed the ramparts of the rugged past encouraged her listening audience to envisage the struggle that has given them the rights they currently enjoy.
The inability to deal with difference, whether it is in connection to the stolen children or the fight for land was used as an awareness raiser for the commonality of the struggle. Similar to Pearson, Bandler used cliches such as not handed on a platter or put on the back burner to keep the message simple and blunt. Comparisons of the past and present, disagreeable versus decent keep the central thread of the address clearly visible. Overall, her message is simple, repeated and emotionally engaging.
In conclusion, a significant event took place on February 13, 2008 when the new PM Kevin Rudd came into power and made a formal apology on behalf of the nation and people of Australia to Aborigines addressing the key values, concepts and ideas of both Pearsons and Bandlers speeches. Today we honour the Indigenous people of this land¦ We reflect on their past mistreatment and we apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and Governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss¦We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians¦
. This event placed a historical importance on both Pearsons and Bandler speeches which caused a positive reception by all of Australia and lead Australia to recognise the injustices inflicted upon Aborigines and reconcile with the past. Both speeches were successful in resonating with their audience and have made a difference in our present day view of our national history and current treatment of Aboriginal Australians.