To whom it may concern
Submission to Co-design process
I am an Australian born and raised teacher who, after several years of Primary-age teaching in Australia, moved to London in 2000. I continued teaching there, eventually specialising in Early Years Education and obtaining an M.A. in Early Childhood Studies. After 19 years living and working in the UK, I returned to Australia permanently in November 2019 to raise my daughter in a country where, I believed, a 'fair go' for all was a core value. Much to my shock and disappointment, I found that Australia has not progressed as a nation espousing values based on freedom, respect, fairness and equality of opportunity during the time I lived abroad, but has actually regressed significantly. The refusal of government to act on taking meaningful steps towards improving outcomes for our First Nations peoples directly contradicts these four values and makes a mockery of the idea that Australia is a country where everyone deserves a 'fair go.'
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
So many harms have been done to our First Nations peoples since white settlement of Australia. Ignoring or minimising these harms sends a message to every member of Australian society that it is acceptable to do so, which, in-turn, exacerbates the effects of intergenerational trauma suffered by our first nations peoples. In The Uluru Statement from the Heart our First Nations peoples have given us a gift: a guide that tells us what we can do to help. Help to address the past traumas and improve outcomes for our First Nations peoples. Why would any reasonable government not want to follow through on that?
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
A Voice to Parliament would improve the lives of all Australians. Most importantly, it would have the greatest positive impact on Indigenous communities, but would also allow every Australian to take the first steps towards holding their heads high amongst the international community. Particularly amongst the many nations across the world who are far further along the path of reconciliation with their own First Nations peoples. Intergenerational trauma amongst our First Nations peoples has flourished alongside the deafness of government to their voice. Personally, I hold deep-seated guilt and shame about the treatment of Indigenous peoples at the hands of my fellow non-Indigenous Australians, past and present. Conversations with my friends and family sparked by the Uluru statement from the heart have shown that they also carry this deep-seated guilt and shame. When our government ignores or minimises the voice of our First Nation peoples this guilt and shame thrives and grows.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
Common decency and respect for other human beings dictates that Indigenous peoples need to have a say in matters that affect them. When someone who does not share and has not listened to your background, history, issues and concerns makes decisions for you it leads not only to ineffective solutions but to resentment and despair. Basic common sense dictates that Indigenous peoples are the best-placed people to have a say in matters that affect them.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
Enshrining the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than including it only in legislation is the very least we can do. It is not asking for much, considering the abuses and inequalities suffered by Indigenous peoples. It is time to listen. It is time to do. It is time for a fair go for our First Nations peoples.