Susan Hillman Stolz
To Co-Design Body
Co-design process: Submission for Susan Hillman Stolz
I’m 67 years old, retired, non-indigenous grandmother, who lives on Boon Wurrung/Bunarong land (Rye, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria). Prior to retirement I was a secondary school teacher, conducted a youth suicide prevention project, worked in a state-wide program, in Melbourne CBD, that supported young people in police custody and which included visiting the Koori Children’s Court. I was a Financial Counsellor in Gunaikurnai country (Gippsland/East Gippsland) and provided the service occasionally to the people at Bung Yarnda Aboriginal Trust.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
I have read extensively about the development of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the comprehensive consultations that took place which resulted in the aim to have a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, a Makarrata Commission and Truth Telling of the history of this country (Voice, Treaty, Truth). I believe the Uluru Statement is an extremely important historical document and a gift to all Australians that provides a pathway to begin the process of bringing justice to First Nations people and to formally acknowledge First Nations people’s rightful place in the history of this country. I urge the Government to act in good faith and honour the commitment made at the 2019 elections to conduct a referendum on the Voice to Parliament to be enshrined in the Constitution and to take the necessary action as soon as possible after the referendum for the Voice to be included in the Constitution and not have it put on the back burner or in the “too hard” basket. In addition, I urge the designers of the Referendum question to make it clear, without ambiguity and with no room for misunderstanding.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
I firmly believe the Voice to Parliament should be enshrined in the Constitution rather than legislated to ensure it is protected from any future changes of Government and any attitudinal changes by parliamentarians of the day. The Voice to Parliament should remain as a constant and permanent fixture in the Australian Parliamentary landscape.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
The Voice to Parliament will enable Government policy and decision makers to utilise the wisdom and traditional knowledge of elders, community members and leaders and the experience of young people, as well as empowering First Nations people, to make culturally enhanced and sensitive decisions about First Nations communities’ health and welfare, education and employment, the criminal justice system (including deaths in custody) and land care. I suggest it will inspire new, meaningful and culturally appropriate ways to “close the gap”.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
The Uluru Statement from the Heart and especially the inclusion of the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution I believe will benefit all of Australian society in a myriad of ways. I have been utterly bewildered, saddened and angry that there continues to be in some quarters of the white non-Aboriginal population (including some circles in which I move) not only a reluctance, but a hostility towards learning more about the generational effects of colonisation on First Nations people including the current startling statistics that show in almost all areas of life, First Nations people experience disadvantage. I believe and hope that for a start, the awareness and education sessions that would be conducted prior to a referendum, will help to alleviate the above-mentioned prejudiced and racist attitudes. Adopting the Voice to Parliament and enshrining it in the Constitution will not only help to address the injustices experienced by First Nations people but will signal long overdue honour and respect for the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land on which we live. This in turn can provide a platform on which we can build an inclusive and compassionate country for us all.
Susan Hillman Stolz