Submissions: Your Feedback

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Submission Number
Michael Dawe
Submission date

Michael Dawe
West Footscray
Victoria 3012

To whom it may concern

Submission for Co-design process

One of my early childhood memories was seeing lots of Aboriginals on TV news covering the 1967 Referendum. Whilst I was too young to comprehend the significance of the referendum at the time I went on to study Australian History. I have worked and lived amongst Aboriginal people in the Pilbara and have witnessed first hand the racist discrimination that they face in their daily lives. I have been a nurse for over 30 years and have cared for many Aboriginal people in that time and I am concerned their health is very disadvantaged compared to most Australians. Many die prematurely from complications of preventable diseases like rheumatic fever, renal failure and diabetes.

Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
It is my belief that many Aboriginal people are made to feel they have no legitimate place in modern Australia and sadly many racist people reinforce this perception that further isolates and disenfranchises them. Aboriginal culture is extremely rich and should be recognised in our constitution as having existed here for many thousands of years prior to European settlement. First Australians were invaded and have been treated atrociously throughout our history, from events like the Myall Creek massacre. These events were written out of our common narrative to the extent that the Frontier Wars are not even recorded in our National War Memorial to this day. The Uluru Statement from the heart will help to acknowledge the wrongs of the past and help create a legitimate place in Australian society for our first inhabitants. It will help to heal the open wound of colonisation.

Why do you think Indigenous people should have a Voice to Parliament?
A voice to Parliament for Indigenous people will help to promote greater autonomy and empowerment for Aboriginal communities and to have their views represented. Many Aborignal people are still living with the scars of the Stolen Generation . These people deserve the dignity of having their voices heard and acknowledged.

Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
Enshrining the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution will protect it against being used as a politically divisive issue by unscrupulous populist politicians in the future. Legislation can be changed easily when governments change. The Constitution is a document that defines how we see ourselves as a country and takes a majority of votes in a majority of states to change. We are an inclusive nation.

Why do you think a Voice to Parliament is important?
Aboriginal community elders and leaders are often best placed to identify the needs and best policies for their own communities. No matter how well intentioned when decisions are imposed on one group of people by another it often leads to poorer outcomes.

It’s time we embraced our first inhabitants and give them recognition and the respect they deserve. Fearmongers will try and say that changing the constitution will lead to litigation, but it is my fairly held belief that Aboriginal people want only to have their voice heard and to feel included in our society. It’s my deep held wish that we will reach a healing reconciliation with our first peoples.

Kind regards,
Michael Dawe