The daughter of Greek migrants who came to Australia for a better life in the late 1950's. I grew up in Pt Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia the traditional home to the Barngarla ,Nauo and Wirangu.
I have been a primary school teacher in the public education system for 36 years including working the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands and now in Adelaide on Kaurna Country. As an educator of primary aged children I have a duty to incorporate the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures across the curriculum in an integrated manner. I do this in order to deepen my students’ knowledge and understanding of Australia and the First Australians.
First Nations people have endured so much pain and suffering as a result of colonisation. The time of lip service and broken promises by successive governments continues with little or no change in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important because First Nations people must have a Voice that must be enshrined in the Constitution.
The Voice to Parliament would give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders a say in law and policy affecting them. Enshrined in the constitution, it would become an institution of lasting significance for First Nations and all Australians.
The Constitution as it is currently still allows racial discrimination not just against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples but against anyone. The Australian Government honoured Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the ‘the oldest continuing cultures in human history’ in the National Apology to the Stolen Generations however the Constitution does not mention First Nations peoples. Our Constitution does not take into account the histories of the people who inhabited this continent before European colonization.
When the Constitution was being drafted First Nations peoples were excluded from the discussions concerning the creation of a new nation to be situated on their Ancestral lands and waters. The Constitution as it stands currently contains no protections against racial discrimination and the Parliament is capable of dismissing existing statutory protections. The protections under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 whereby federal legislation is designed to ensure equality of treatment of all people regardless of their race, have been removed on three occasions each time it has involved Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues. In the 1990's during the Hindmarsh Island Bridge debate in South Australia was one such occasion. The proposed bridge crossed over a sacred site of the Ngarrindjeri people, who objected to the construction. The High Court held that the 1967 referendum did not restrict the Commonwealth Parliament from making laws to the detriment of a particular ethnic group and that the parliament was able to expressly remove the Hindmarsh Island area from the Racial Discrimination Act and the Heritage Protection Act simply by passing the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Act of 1996.
I support constitutional reforms to empower First Nations people to take their rightful place in their own country. I believe we should walk together on this journey