I am a privileged, middle aged, white Australian man. I was not educated about our First Nation's Peoples and have spent most of my life in the bubble of corporate Australia and metropolitan living.
Some years ago, I had the opportunity to meet some wonderful, inspiring Aboriginal leaders who provided me with a much needed education on the histories and cultures of our First People's and I have since become quite involved in working with Aboriginal people and corporations.
As a nation, we must recognise that the discussion on Reconciliation has always been through the prism of white privilege and attendant subconscious "saviourism" - that the issue is somehow a problem that needs to be solved rather than an opportunity that needs to be embraced.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were asked what would make a meaningful impact to them in terms of Constitutional recognition. They produced one of the most beautiful pieces of work in this country - the Uluru Statement From the Heart. It is simple and profound in terms of how this country can move forward as one nation with the unique gift that our entire shared history provides.
I was ashamed at how the proposals in the Uluru Statement were initially addressed by our government and the incredible unnecessary hurt that was added to an already heavy burden of intergenerational trauma. Yet hope was provided with a commitment to take the issue of a constitutionally enshrined Voice to a referendum. That commitment must be honored.
It is now almost 13 years since the Apology to the Stolen Generations and yet the gaps in terms of life expectancy, education, employment, incarceration and suicide remain alarming high. For too long, we have not done enough. As soon as the commitment to hold a referendum is honored, we must move to the enabling legislation within the next term so that the current generation of Australians can embrace a new way forward - where all voices are heard and healing can actually begin.
It is also necessary that membership model for the voice specifically include the voices that are the most disproportionately not heard - those in regional and remote areas without leadership positions but with a deep connection to their land, their culture and in the best position to understand how laws and policies will impact those very people that the laws and policies are designed to help.
Our First Nation's Peoples do not have the resources or profile to achieve change on their own. It is up to all Australians to learn of the incredible opportunities that are available to this Nation by ensuring that these recommendations are adopted.