2155

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Submission Number
2155
Participant
Jake Rance
Submission date

Jake Rance
Bondi NSW 2026

Dear Co-Design Body

Submission to Co-design process

I was born in London, England in 1966. My family immigrated to New Zealand / Aotearoa in 1974 before moving to Sydney, Australia in 1978. Since finishing high school in Canberra in 1984 I have lived most of my adult life in Sydney. I graduated from Sydney University in 1991 with an honours degree in social anthropology and in 2018 was awarded a PhD from Utrecht University in the Netherlands. I was employed as a health and outreach worker for nearly ten years in Sydney's Kings Cross. Since 2009 I have worked as a research academic with a national research centre, the Centre for Social Research, based at UNSW Sydney. The focus of my research has been communities affected by injecting drug use, incarceration and hepatitis C.

Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
The Uluru Statement from the Heart unites First Nations voices from around Australia. It is a remarkable document of poetic power and symbolic generosity that also provides a practical way forward for relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The Statement foresees an Australia for ALL Australians, providing a roadmap for how we as a Nation get there and extending an invitation for non-Indigenous Australia to walk alongside Indigenous Australians in doing so.

How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
A Voice to Parliament provides the means by which First Nations people can speak to be heard. Such a Voice does not require a homogeneity of opinion nor impose a requirement to always speak with one voice, but rather it begins to address the historical and enduring absence of means for Indigenous people to speak. A Voice to Parliament would formalise a structure and a process by which Indigenous people can have a say in what matters to them and 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?
It is imperative that the Voice to Parliament is enshrined in the Australian Constitution. Including the Voice in legislation alone is not sufficient. Legislation can be overturned and would leave a legislated Voice vulnerable to the politics of the day. Too often the lives of Indigenous People have been vulnerable to political machinations over which they have had no control. The Voice is too important to leave to the changing fortunes of politicians and political parties. For First Nations people to trust that the Voice constitutes a genuine and enduring force for change, it must be enshrined in the Constitution.

Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
I believe that being heard is central to our sense of humanness, our sense of self. For far too long many First Nations people have lead lives characterised by experiences of social marginality and exclusion; of a Nation indifferent to what matters to them. And we are ALL the lesser for having failed to listen. For the vision enshrined in the Uluru Statement to be realised, Indigenous people need to have a say in the matters that affect them

I have a fourteen year old son. Only recently his mother has discovered that her maternal grandmother was almost certainly a part of the Stolen Generation. Yet, despite the best efforts of LinkUp, she and my son are still unable to properly identify as proud Indigenous Australians. Hopefully their time will come. And they are not alone. Like so many others, their uncertain Indigenous story is a product of a colonial history that did its best to erase Aboriginal people's their links to their traditional communities. These acts of elision and erasure continue today. Until we come together, as Indigenous and non-Australians, in formal recognition of our history of colonisation and its enduring legacy, we will remain a Nation arrested in development. The Uluru Statement from the Heart offers us all a way to move forward.

Kind regards,
Jake Rance