The battle for Aboriginal sovereignty in Australia is as far from being won as it was in the 1970s, two indigenous activists in Canberra have said.
Queenslander Cheryl Buchanan and Canberra-based Ray Swan are involved in a forum on Wednesday as part of the Centenary of Canberra's indigenous cultural program.
They will hold the forum at the tent embassy in front of Old Parliament House, the site of a long-running public protest for Aboriginal sovereignty first begun by four young indigenous men on Australia Day 1972.
Ms Buchanan was at the establishment of the tent embassy but said the last four decades had not brought the huge political and social changes she had hoped for.
''As many steps forward as you go there are so many steps backward and who would have thought that in 2013 we'd still have an intervention, or something like that being rolled out in the Northern Territory.''
Ms Buchanan is well known in the indigenous activist community for the establishment of organisations such as the Aboriginal legal, medical and childcare centres.
But she said many indigenous-run services have since been usurped by government agencies. ''What does that say to you? It says that these great ideas and this wealth of energy that people had within our community … has turned back on us, because they were under-resourced and the greatest way you can cut anything in Aboriginal affairs is to under-resource it.''
Indigenous activist and facilitator at Wednesday's tent embassy Ray Swan said the plight of Aboriginal sovereignty had not improved since 1992 when he took part in a 20-year commemoration of the embassy.
''Well, you go and look at Aboriginal communities, see the oblivion they're in. So is that better or worse?'' Mr Swan asked.
When asked whether Kevin Rudd's apology in February 2008 counted for anything, he said it was a politically-timed empty gesture.
''I remember that time. Thousands of Aboriginal people were in Canberra demonstrating against the Northern Territory intervention and within a day or two, Rudd, the sly fox he is, created a paradox and brought people from the stolen generation to the front and said sorry to the stolen generation.''
Ms Buchanan said Mr Rudd's apology was an act of goodwill and it was too hard to know whether it was a politically motivated move or not.
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