Aden Ridgeway

Aden Ridgeway during his time as Senator by Juno Gemes (Photo: National Portrait Gallery)

Aden Ridgeway during his time as Senator by Juno Gemes (Photo: National Portrait Gallery)

This statement was prepared by Senator Aden Ridgeway, member of the Gumbayyngirr people, former Executive Director of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, former member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats – Mornington Peninsula Peace Vigil, October 2001.

Thank you for inviting me to contribute to the Vigil and share some of my thoughts on the importance of promoting peace and cultural diversity at this time in our history.

I would like to share with you an extract from the speech I made to the Senate in commemoration of the victims of the September 11 bombings:

In our quest for exacting justice, we should ensure that justice is exact, not indiscriminate.

As Australians, we pride ourselves on our democracy and its fundamental freedoms. Now, more than ever, we must all uphold the rule of law and guarantee the right of freedom of every citizen in this Nation without fear or favour.

We must condemn swiftly, attacks by Australians on Muslim mosques and schools, and businesses in the same manner in which we have previously condemned anti-Semitic behaviour in this country.

Many of our Muslim and Arab friends, not unlike our Jewish friends, are Australian citizens and deserve our support in such a harrowing time.

“Genuine morality is preserved only in the school of adversity.”

In this regard, let us not be bereft of advocates for Australian tolerance. Let us all be advocates for freedom and democracy, exact justice, tolerance and understanding for all of the members of the family of humanity.

Thank you.



Aden Ridgeway was born in Macksville in northern NSW in 1962.  He is a proud member of the Gumbayyngirr people, growing up on an Aboriginal reserve before going on to become a park ranger, court assessor, chief executive officer and federal politician.

Aden is the first Indigenous person to be elected as a Parliamentary Leader in Australia when he held the position of Deputy Leader, Australian Democrats, during 2001-02. He retired as a Senator for NSW having served in the Federal Parliament for six years.