1956

Submissions: Your Feedback

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Submission Number
1956
Participant
Ute Eickelkamp
Submission date

Ute Eickelkamp
Wentworth Falls 2782

To Co-Design Body

Submission to Co-design process

I came to Australia from Germany in 1995, at the invitation of Anangu women performers and cultural ambassadors visiting Berlin. This was the beginning of many years of anthropological research and collaboration with Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjantjara women, men and children at Pukatja on the APY Lands. I have witnessed the tragic decline of a sense of hope in the struggle for a self-determined life, as people have faced the deliberate dismantling of their local governance structure and CDEP-supported meaningful work in a push for coercive centralisation. The empowering legacy of hard-won land rights and bicultural education was being undone. My life shifted to Australia through working with and being cared for by Anangu mentors. I became a permanent resident in 2000 and have since lived with my family in the Blue Mountains. The connection, both professional and a deep friendship with families from the APY Lands, is a determining and immensely valuable part of our lives, across the generations.

Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
The carefully prepared Uluru Statement from the Heart is the single most important initiative by Indigenous Australians that this nation has seen since Mabo 1 and 2. It is the concerted effort by Indigenous people from all parts of the country to counter the dismantling (mainstreaming) of their political representation, and indeed all aspects of their lives, since the abolition of ATSIC 2004--2005. The denial of real political representation of Indigenous people in the Australian Federal Parliament is an anachronism (i.e., colonialist).

Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
To include the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution is a public symbol of commitment to equity and recognition of First Nations Australians, and as such will enhance Australia's self-understanding as a nation.

How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
A Voice to Parliament would have a trickle down effect to state, regional and local levels, practically and symbolically. It is a tool to advance equality for Indigenous people and shift the terms of engagement from dependency (on goodwill and symbolic gestures) to partnership.

Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
Indigenous Australians are not wardens of the state. To have a say in the matters that affect them is both a human right (in accord with the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), and best practice of successful policy making. Participatory, inclusive governance at all levels has proven crucial for many sectors of society - in Australia and beyond.

There are no benign reasons not to include the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution.

Yours sincerely,
Ute Eickelkamp