Dr Stephen Gapps
History Council of NSW,
Royal Exchange, 1225
Dear Co-Design Body,
Submission for Co-design process
I am President of the History Council of NSW and current Chair of the History Councils of Australia. I am an historian and museum curator. My recent history work has been highlighting Frontier Wars conflict and resistance.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
From my perspective, the national story of resistance warfare and conflict should be a critical part of all Australians historical understanding. The call for truth-telling in the Statement from the Heart is vital to any form of reconciliation.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
For too long have non-Indigenous people told Indigenous people what is good for them. It is high time this changed and the Statement from the Heart will be an important avenue for broader Indigenous voices to be heard and the human right of self-determination.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
A Voice to Parliament will provide an important balance and perspective for when government deals with historical issues in the present. As a member of the history community, this will be a great assistance in understanding an Indigenous perspective on such issues.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
A First Nations Voice, protected by the Constitution, will mean that agreement-making and truth-telling can finally be done on equal terms to other members of the Australian community, protected by constitutional right.
The Liberal party's commitment to pursue constitutional recognition of First Nations people in the 2019 federal election needs to be advanced and finalized, not just put to one side in the face of other priorities. This is an ongoing need that will signal the commitment of the whole Australian community to lasting and meaningful change for its First Nations people.
Dr Stephen Gapps
History Council of NSW, Inc