1019

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Submission Number
1019
Participant
Suzanne O'Neill and Tracey Newbury
Submission date

Please see attached submission. Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Main Submission Automated Transcript

Tuesday 23rd March 2021

Dear members and representatives of the Australian Government

Submission in Response to the Interim Report on the Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process

We join with members of Australia’s First Nations Peoples and other Australians, from all
walks of life, in calling for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the
Constitution.

We ask that the Government of Australia:
1. Honour its election commitment to a referendum once the model for the Voice is
settled.
2. Pass enabling legislation for the Voice after the referendum has been held, in the next
term of Parliament.
3. Ensure that the membership model for the Voice is open to all First Nations peoples,
from across Australia’s mainland and the Torres Strait Islands; and, where necessary,
establishes affirmative actions and processes to ensure the equitable opportunity for
all to election to leadership.

We write to you as private citizens. We are friends who share a passion for a better and fairer
Australia. We are affluent and educated women who have lived fortunate and interesting
lives, blessed by careers, family and friends. We have much to be thankful for: we live well,
we have shelter, we have the opportunity to pursue our hopes and give life to our dreams.
We have benefited from the wealth and opportunities of this beautiful country. We have been
blessed by the benefits of good fortune and hard work – and the sheer luck of being born
white in this beautiful country.

We acknowledge the expertise and commitment of those involved in the co-design process,
and all the committees that preceded it. We affirm the courage of those people who gathered
to formulate the Uluru statement. We honour the many others who have advocated, through
the decades, for a fairer and more respectful Australia. Our intent in this submission is to
advocate for a fairer and more respectful Australia, built on considered and respectful
dialogue between all who live in this country. We acknowledge that others carry the
responsibility – and the expertise – to articulate the processes by which that dialogue can
happen; to formulate the “nuts and bolts” of the how. It is our contention that Australia must
take this opportunity to unify our country now.

We believe the tragic and traumatic legacies of our past continue to harm the lives of
indigenous people in Australia and inhibit possibilities for our shared future. The wealth and
affluence of contemporary Australia is built on the pain and the sorrow of dispossession, of
the theft of the lands and the children, and the unacknowledged genocides of the First
Nations peoples.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart offers an opportunity to build and strengthen mutual
respect and to create bridges between the First Nations people and those who have
benefitted from their experience of dispossession and trauma. The Voice offers an
opportunity for dialogue and change; a vehicle through which to build mutual respect,
through listening and dialogue. It is an opportunity that we can no longer afford to ignore, if
we want to ensure a vibrant, fair and equal Australia in our lifetime, and for the children of
the next generations.

We ask you to ask yourselves: how can we, as representatives and servants of all the peoples
of this country, ensure a fairer, more equal, Australia, where all have the opportunity to
benefit from the wealth and resources of this country, where all are respected for the courage
of their convictions and aspirations, rather than condemned by the trauma of the past and
the colour of their skin?

We cannot wait. We must act now. The Australian Government must accept and honour the
invitation extended through the Uluru Statement from the Heart to build a shared and honest
future, together.

We ask you, as our representatives, elected to lead our country, to have the courage to hold
the conversations and take action to build a fairer and more respectful Australia: we reiterate
the steps nominated by the From the Heart campaign, and ask you, respectfully, to:
1. Honour the Government’s election commitment to a referendum once the model for
the Voice is settled.
2. Pass enabling legislation for the Voice after the referendum has been held, in the next
term of Parliament.
3. Ensure the membership model for the Voice is open to all First Nations peoples, from
across Australia’s mainland and the Torres Strait Islands; and where necessary,
establishes affirmative actions and processes to ensure the equitable opportunity for
all to election to leadership.

Sincerely

Ms Suzanne M O’Neill Ms Tracey Newbury

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