Dear Co-Design Body
Co-design process: Submission for Kevin Bracken
My name is Kevin Bracken. I am a working class activist and member of the Maritime Union of Australia and previously held the position of Secretary of the Victorian Branch for twelve years. I also held a position as President of the Victorian Trades Hall Council from 2010-12. I currently hold the position of Chairperson of Spirit of Eureka and the International League of Peoples Struggle, Australia. However this submission is my own. In these positions, I have been asked to speak many times on matters of justice for our First Nations Peoples. It is to our countries great shame that our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are prortionally the most incarcerated people on earth. For almost two hundred years we have refused to recognise their existence on this continent for over 60,000 years prior to British colonisation. This denial has enabled British Colonial rulers and succesive Australian governments to make deciions about the original inhabitants and custodians without consultation, notwithstanding bodies that can be sumarally dismissed at the whim of a government minister.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
The Uluru Statement, is an opportunity to take steps to heal the great injustices that have been inflicted on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders by British Colonisation and Australian Governments that based their authority on the lie of Terra Nullus. They must have a constitutional right to be heard to start to address the political disempowerment that has led to the disasterous outcomes inflicted upon them.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
The Australian Constitution specifies Representational government, that is government by the people through their representatives. Our first nations people need their own representatives to ensure their voice has currency in the decision making body of our country.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
Australia has a shameful legacy of injustice inflicted on our first nations peoples. We failed to respect their human dignity. Assimilation had the intention of their disipitaion as a people and destruction of their culture and language. The deep social problems that come from wrenching children from their families need to be healed. Giving a Voice to Parliament to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will be a step for Australia to recognise their important and ongoing place in this counrty and in human progress.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
Constitutional recognition is vital, so that the people that they choose to represent them cannot be dismissed at the whim of government.
A referendum will allow the will of the peolpe to be heard. Let the people decide, it is not for their representatives to deny them that right.