2116

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Submission Number
2116
Participant
Hemini Roshelle Martin
Submission date

Hemini Roshelle Martin
Ngunawal Country
ACT 2605

Dear Co-Design Body
Submission for Co-design process
I am a Sri Lankan-Kiwi woman who is currently living in Ngunawal Country. I attended secondary school and university on Darug Country and continued to live there for many years (approximately fourteen years in total) while working as an accountant. I completed a Bachelor of Commerce - Professional Accounting at Macquarie University, after which I completed an accredited Graduate Diploma of Chartered Accounting. Prior to moving to Darug Country, I grew up in New Zealand and, before that, Zambia. I moved to Ngunawal Country just over three years ago to commence my undergraduate studies in archaeology and biological anthropology at the Australian National University.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is representative of the wishes and needs of many Indigenous Australian people from all over the country. These are people who have not been sufficiently heard for over two centuries, with devastating consequences. It is time they are properly heard so that they can heal and thrive, and so that we can all grow.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
The history of Australia since colonisation clearly demonstrates that the lives and fates of the Indigenous People of Australia have been at the mercy and will of whatever government happens to be in power. A Voice to Parliament in the Constitution will hold its legitimacy and power through such political changes, which, in turn, will help to preserve agency for Indigenous People.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
The voices of Indigenous People were effectively ripped away from them over 230 years ago, when British colonisers refused to listen to them and made decisions for them and spoke and acted for them, putting their own best interests first and completely disregarding the humanity of the people they were acting for. This unjust practice has continued until today, and the devastating results are testament to how ineffective it is. Conversely, when Indigenous People have been able to maintain agency, they have flourished. It is important for Indigenous People to have a say in the matters that affect them because they know themselves, their families and communities, their Ancestors, their land and their histories and cultures spanning tens of thousands of millennia, better than anyone. Therefore, only they can make the best decisions for themselves.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
A Voice to Parliament could support self-determination and appropriate support for the Indigenous People in my community. It will help these people and communities to heal from the devastating injustices they have suffered since colonisation and help them to continue to thrive. All members of my community deserve to flourish, and we are better individually, and together, when we all flourish. We can learn a lot from the people who have succeeded on the land we live on for tens of thousands of years.

Kind regards,
Hemini Roshelle Martin