To whom it may concern
Co-design process: Submission for Sky Mazurkiewicz
I am a non-indigenous Australian who was born in Australia and this is where I live. Since university I have been involved with First Nations people, where I studied Indigenous Cultural Heritage, Indigenous Australians and Archaeology; and Bundjalung Cultural Heritage at Southern Cross University. My undergraduate thesis was on environmental and welfare issues at Cabbage Tree Island with the Jali Aboriginal Land Council. I did my Internship at Mutawintji National Park, where I later became NPWS Ranger, and then later sat on the Mutawintji Board of Management as the Conservation rep. In 2007 I was on the The Two Fires Festival Committee in Braidwood NSW, which is a festival in honour of poet Judith Wright, and her devotion to arts and activism, particularly environmental and Indigenous activism. I have spent time working and living in community and have stepped away from my role in indigenous environmental management to make way for those roles to be fulfilled by First Nations people, as it should be.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
The Uluru Statement is important because Indigenous Australians should be recognised as this country's first people. The Uluru Statement of the Heart is critical as it summarises and unites Indigenous Australian's say on the way things are and what should happen. I wholeheartedly support the statement. Indigenous peoples have been treated incredibly badly, and unfairly since the arrival of white man and this has to change. When white man arrived here, people living together, who had been here for tens of thousands of years and today, in modern day Australia, our Constitution does not reflect the truth, Aboriginal people are still treated disproportionately worse than any other sector of Australian society and the avenues for support and a voice in parliament are non existent.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
Aboriginal Sovereignty was never ceded and Indigenous rights have never been given. A Voice to Parliament enabled by the Constitution would give members of the community a say on matters affecting them. It would give Indigenous people social equality that they currently do not have. It is the first step in the direction of recognition. It is an important step towards reconciliation in this Country.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
It is a question of recognition. Indigenous people are the most underrepresented sector of Australian Society and suffer greatly. How can we let this happen? Kevin Rudd said sorry and then promised the next step: Reconciliation. It never happened. The sense of uprising dissipated, and the Government allowed it to happen. Our politicians show us that relations between white and black people are not improving. Why? Are white people becoming so desensitised that they have lost compassion for other people? There is always this sense that Indigenous people will be recognised "one day", and that there will be a path for Reconciliation. That time has come. It is NOW!
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
There are ongoing examples of Government acting in bad faith towards Indigenous People in Australia. I have seen this first hand in my time of the Mutawintji Board of Management. The trust has been eroded. Everything from Treaty to Reconciliation has been touted and then abandoned, which has left incredible amount of unease for Indigenous people to want to be involved. Distrust of Native Title, Land Rights Act, ATSIC - have all contributed to this growing tension. Constitutional change would recognise that Indigenous Australians can have equitable access to political processes, not just at the whim of a bureaucratic process.
Constitutional recognition in other countries internationally have long been heralded as the gold standard, particularly Canada for how well this has worked and how it could be applied in Australia. We have all the information we need, it is long overdue. A Voice enshrined in the Constitution can deliver real long lasting practical change. I support an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.