Show artwork for NAIDOC Week 2020
MTC Audio Lab

Great Australian Speeches

NAIDOC Week 2020

A collection of MTC Audio Lab episodes

In celebration of NAIDOC Week 2020, revisit iconic speeches and poetry from leading First Nations voices and key players in historical campaigns for the rights of Indigenous Australians.

To celebrate NAIDOC Week, listen to some iconic speeches and poetry from leading First Nations voices and key players in historical campaigns for the rights of Indigenous Australians, recorded as part of MTC Audio Lab’s Great Australian Speeches.

Curated and directed by MTC Associate Director Petra Kalive in collaboration with the cast, the first MTC Audio Lab series, Great Australian Speeches, explored speeches, texts and poems designed for spoken performance from the 1800s to today.

During National NAIDOC Week 2020 (815 November 2020), we revisit a collection of speeches and texts from leading First Nations voices and key players in historical campaigns for the rights of Indigenous Australians.

These episodes feature performances from actors Shareena ClantonMark Coles Smith and Leonie Whyman.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that MTC Audio Lab articles and recordings contain names, imagery and words of deceased persons.

Ellen van Neerven’s poems from Throat

Ellen van Neerven is an award-winning writer, editor and educator of Mununjali Yugambeh and Dutch heritage with strong ancestral ties to south east queensland.

They write fiction, poetry and non-fiction. van Neerven’s first book, Heat and Light, was the recipient of the David Unaipon Award, the Dobbie Literary Award and the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards Indigenous Writers' Prize. Their poetry collection Comfort Food was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Kenneth Slessor Prize and Highly Commended for the 2016 Wesley Michel Wright Prize. The following poems are from van Neerven’s collection, Throat, which was released in 2020 and was recipient of the inaugural Quentin Bryce Award.

Ellen van Neerven’s poems Politicians Having Long Showers on Stolen Land, White Excellence and All That is Loved are read by Leonie Whyman.

Throat is now available to purchase at Readings. 

Jack Patten’s Day of Mourning protest opening address

John Thomas 'Jack' Patten was an Aboriginal Australian civil rights activist and journalist.

The President and Co-Founder of the Aborigines Progressive Association, he was a brilliant speaker, one of the best of his era. In this role, Patten organised the 1938 Day of Mourning protest, and presented Prime Minister Joseph Lyons with his and William Ferguson's manifesto, Aborigines Claim Citizenship Rights.

This is Jack Pattens Opening address to the Day of Mourning protest, 26 January 1938, at Australia Hall in Sydney read by Mark Coles Smith.

Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue at the National Congress of Australia’s First People

Dr Lowitja Lois ODonoghue Smart AC CBE DSG is a lauded Aboriginal Australian and retired public administrator.

In 1976, Dr ODonoghue was the first Aboriginal woman to be inducted into the new Order of Australia, in recognition of her work in the welfare field. She was named Australian of the Year in 1984, for her work to improve the welfare of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. From 1990 to 1996 she was the inaugural chairperson of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and was invested as a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) on 26 January 1999.

This is Dr ODonoghues speech opening the National Congress of Australia’s First People on 8 June 2011, read by Shareena Clanton.

Shareena Clanton’s The Age of Ignorance is Over

Shareena Clanton is an Australian theatre, film and television actor.

Clanton portrays Doreen Anderson in the Foxtel TV series Wentworth and appeared in the feature film Last Cab to Darwin. In 2017, she starred in Melbourne Theatre Company’s production of Macbeth.

In Autumn 2018, Clanton published her essay ‘The Age of Ignorance is Over’ in Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance Equity Magazine. It issues a wake-up call to those in positions of authority to lift the cloak of invisibility from artists of colour and afford them the same opportunities as their white cohort.

For Great Australian Speeches, 'The Age of Ignorance is Over'
 is read by the author herself, Shareena Clanton.

Also recorded as part of MTC Audio Lab’s Great Australian Speeches was activist Faith Bandler's address from the Talkin’ up Reconciliation Convention in August 1999, entitled Faith, Hope & Reconciliation.

Faith Bandler’s Faith, Hope & Reconciliation

Faith Bandler AC was an Australian civil rights activist of South Sea Islander and Scottish–Indian heritage and a campaigner for the rights of Indigenous Australians and South Sea Islanders.

As general secretary of  Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (FCAATSI), there are many campaigns for which Faith Bandler was chief instigator and spokesperson, but she was perhaps best known for her leadership in the campaign for the 1967 referendum on Aboriginal Australians.

Bandler was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) on 11 June 1984, in recognition of her service to Aboriginal welfare; and was invested as a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2009.

For MTC Audio Lab, Faith, Hope & Reconciliation was read by Leonie Whyman.

You can learn more about NAIDOC Week at

Ellen van Neerven's Throat is published by University of Queensland Press. Supplied headshot by Anna Jacobson.

Jack Patten's speech was recorded with permission from the Patten family. 

Image of Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue via Wikimedia Commons. Speech recorded with permission from the Lowitja Institute.

Published on 9 November 2020

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