Murray Bridge SA 5253
Dear Co-Design Body
Co-design process: Submission for Ian Blue
I am a 72 year old retired Professor of Nursing. Over the course of my professional life I had many interactions with Aboriginal and TSI people. I consider myself fortunate to have made several friends during those years. I also lived and worked in a northern university in British Columbia, Canada and experienced the way First Nation peoples in Canada are respected for their significant cultural contribution to modern Canadian society. I am an Australian born citizen with my ancestry linked to Scotland. Like many Australians I have deep concerns about the past history of European settlement in this country and over two centuries later our failure to find a permanent solution to the plight of our First Nations People in the most basic of human rights. Education, Health, Employment and Recognition of cultural background. It is time that injustice is corrected.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
It is very important because it comes from the hearts and minds of our First Nations Peoples. They have considered after much discussion what their needs and aspirations are. They have made reasonable requests. They want their past history acknowledged. They want a say in how their people become equal in the same way governments provide services to all other Australians.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
All other non-indigenous Australians have this right. They exercise it through our democracy. Our First Nations People feel they are not able to use their democratic rights to make change.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
The Constitution of our Nation should reflect who we are as a people. It should enshrine our values, custom and laws. When it was first formed in 1901 our Nation did not recognise our First Nations People. As such our treatment of Australia’s original inhabitants was and has been appalling. If we value the importance of our Constitution it must reflect us as a whole people. It must make clear our intent to recognise, respect and reorder past wrongs. Only then can we move forward as a proud, fair and just Nation with our First Nations People an integral part of our future.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
I live in an area where traditional owners the Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna lived before European settlement. I have seen the importance those communities place on keeping their culture alive through language preservation, art, storytelling and naming of public spaces. A strong society is one that welcomes everyone, respects diversity and celebrates the special history of past people and events. We all grow and mature as one when people who feel excluded are invited to be inside our ‘societal tent’. A voice is only a sound that comes from one individual but it only has real meaning when it is listened to and acted upon.
I am disappointed successive Australian Governments have not addressed this continuing inequality with First Nations People. The effects of this continue to wreak havoc in those communities with high incarceration rates, poorer health outcomes, educational disadvantage, socio-economic ghettos and further erosion of an ancient culture we should be proud of.