Turner ACT 2612
To whom it may concern
Submission to Co-design process
I am the child of migrants, who came to Australia when I was a year old. I grew up in rural Queensland and studied behavioural science in Toowoomba, psychology in Canberra, and psychometric methods in Minneapolis. After living in many places as a young adult, I decided that Australia was home. As a result, I made a life with my own family and have spent most of my professional life in Queensland. As an essentially rootless young adult I had a choice to make - I needed somewhere to call home. I came to the realisation that Australia was my home. I can only imagine what it is like to be as rooted in a country as a person whose ancestors have thrived in this country for 60,000 years. I can’t imagine the hurt that it must cause to be so rooted in a country when those who now shape the culture and direction of the country allow so little space for your culture, your history, your place in this land.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a beautiful, simple and powerful summation of a well known problem - the historical and ongoing mistreatment of the Indigenous people of this country in most communities of this country; combined with a set of powerful positive steps to start to make the First Nations people welcome in their own country.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
There are two ways in which a Voice to Parliament will improve lives in my community. First, it will give Indigenous people in my community a say in how they are perceived and in how they are treated. This will provide an avenue for addressing real problems with real, practical, solutions, as well as helping to address the lack of respect with which Indigenous people in our communities are often treated. Second, people in my community who are not Indigenous Australians will begin to see the challenges that our Indigenous community members face and the solutions to these challenges from a more real perspective than we have in the past. Most of all, I love the country I chose as home. But my home seems in considerable pain and confusion about what is at its heart. That confusion and pain can never be resolved without making space for the people and cultures that thrived in this land for so many generations before migrants came here. And we must make that space on our First Nations people’s terms. That is the opportunity we have with the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
Much of my professional career has focused on improving the health of rural and regional communities. A fundamental principle in this work is that it must be based on community circumstances and community need. If you want communities to be healthy you need to include them in determining the problems, finding the solutions, and in enacting those solutions. Bringing in solutions from outside (e.g., from metropolitan centres) rarely works for long, if at all. The Voice to Parliament is this principle on a larger scale. If my experience with rural health is any guide, this Voice is the only way that meaningful, sustainable improvement in the lives of our First Nations people will happen.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
The Voice to Parliament must be enshrined in the constitution so that it is not subject to short-term political whims. It’s too important for that.
We have a wonderful opportunity here. We need to take it.