Dear Co-Design Body
Co-design process: Submission
I am a university student studying International Relations and Philosophy at Macquarie University. I also work full time as an office assistant in Sydney's Northern Beaches. I am non-Indigenous.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
The Uluru Statement is so important for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as it sends such a strong message about the continuing trauma of colonisation and the persistent systemic discrimination. It highlights a continuing movement towards sovereignty and self-determination for Indigenous peoples in Australia.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
In my community we don't have a high Indigenous population but I know that a Voice to Parliament would have such a positive impact across the whole country. A Voice to Parliament would provide such a great level of recognition of the struggles of Indigenous people, given them a greater capacity to lead their communities, and alleviate prejudices. It would be another step towards an anti-racist Australia where Indigenous people are celebrated and listened to.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
Indigenous Australia's need to be self-determining on the matters that affect them as every Australian government since colonisation has failed to completely eradicate the countless forms of discrimination that Indigenous peoples experience every day. Its been over a decade since Closing the Gap, its been over 30 years since the Royal Commission into Indigenous deaths in custody - and hardly any real change has occurred. Clearly the structure of the Australian Government at a state and federal level needs to change, for without an Indigenous perspective keeping the rest of government accountable there will be no change.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
To recognise a Voice to Parliament in the Constitution is to recognise the centuries of discrimination and trauma faced by Indigenous peoples within our one of our oldest legal documents. It's significance would be at a metaphorical level, at these struggles as a part of Australia just as much as all the other rulings of the Constitution. From a practical perspective, legislation is too easy to change from one political term to the next, so formalising a Voice to Parliament in the Constitution would provide so much extra security for Indigenous voices in government.
After all of the struggles that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been through over the past few centuries, the Australian government owes them the capacity to have a formal Voice to Parliament that is legally binding and enforceable, not merely a consultation position.