Gillieston Heights NSW 2321
To Whom It May Concern
Submission for the Co-Design Process
My name is Shantell Bailey and I am a proud Wiradjuri woman and lawyer practising in
Newcastle New South Wales. I grew up as a young person in the Blue Mountains and as
an adult studied a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Social Science at Macquarie University
graduating in 2017.
Since this time, I have worked as a young lawyer for both the federal and New South
Wales government in different capacities. I am a member of the Uluru Youth Network
and sit on the New South Wales Law Society's Indigenous Issues Committee.
In 2019 I was invited to attend the Uluru Youth Summit in Cairns and join the Youth
Network facilitated by the Indigenous Law Centre at UNSW. Through this process I
became more aware about the importance of the Uluru Statement and what this
represents for our people.
The Statement calls for three key components of self-determination. Voice, Treaty and
Truth. As a young Aboriginal woman this represents an opportunity for Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples to engage, work with and move towards a brighter and
unified future with our allies and community.
This is why a voice to parliament is so important. It would allow the self-determination of
our communities to be protected under this founding document and for our people to
continuously have a voice to Parliament about the matters that impact us and our
peoples into the future.
This is significant as we are critically aware that when Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples and communities are given the tools to be self-determined and make
decisions and choices for and to assist their own communities that this is when we see
change. When our people are given the opportunity to make these decisions our
communities, children and families will flourish and unfortunately I do not see that this
opportunity would be possible with a 'legislated' voice as there would be no ongoing
legal protection or surety regarding such power.
If a voice is not enshrined in the Constitution, we face the political trap of having
progress made if a voice is legislated whilst having this dismantled and taken away
when future governments decide it no longer fits within their priorities. We have seen this
time and time again.
As noted in the Statement whilst proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on
the planet, we are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their
families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And
our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the
future. These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem.
This is the torment of our powerlessness.
As the Statement calls for, we seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and
take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our
children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their
country. We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the
My hope is that with this information the government plainly understands the importance
of enshrining a voice to Parliament and its significance in allowing Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples to walk together with our non-Indigenous peers to achieve a
I thank you for your considerations of this submission and implore the government to
move towards constitutional enshrinement of the voice in the immediate future.
25 March 2021