BY JUDI McLEAN
First impressions of Linda Burney belie the real Linda. Inside this petite, articulate woman beats the heart of a lioness and conviction of steel. In spite of, or because of life’s challenges, Linda has left a large footprint on our country and undoubtedly more will follow…
“I am a member of the mighty Wiradjuri Aboriginal nation… For the first 10 years of my life, like all Indigenous people at that time, I was not a citizen of this country. Growing up as an Aboriginal child looking into the mirror of our country was difficult and alienating. Your reflection in the mirror was at best ugly and distorted, and at worst non-existent…”
This is part of Linda Burney’s Inaugural Speech when she became the first Aboriginal person to serve in the New South Wales Parliament. A political career, in her own words, was a “natural evolution for me”.
Looking back on the 1950s we can only imagine what life was like for Linda’s mother, a young white woman pregnant to an Aboriginal man, and the subsequent life of the child born into such a society. To ‘resolve the situation’, Linda was raised in a predominantly white society by her great aunt and uncle, Nina and Billy Laing, who were brother and sister. Linda knew what it was like to be different and to be the object of racial discrimination from an early age, but in spite of this, admits to having “a strong sense of social justice – I couldn’t bear to see anyone suffer.” Much of this was innate, and some she attributes to Billy, the great uncle who inspired her most as a child.
Walking in other people’s shoes (Aurora)