To Co-Design Body
Co-design process: Submission for Shelley Wilkinson
I am an Associate Professor in the School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences at the University of Queensland. I am trained as a dietitian and psychologist and I work as a researcher in maternal health. I live and work in Brisbane on Turrubul/Jaggera land. Previously I worked at the Mater Mothers Hospital - the busiest maternity hospital in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the only hospitals in Australia who has successfully partnered with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to significantly improve birth outcomes for these women. My research program aims to improve the health of mothers and babies by increasing the nutrition capacity and capabilities of maternity services and clinicians to provide the best nutritional care to women during and after pregnancy. As part of this work I am acutely aware of the impact of the social determinants of health on pregnancy outcomes, as well as wider societal benefits and change.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
I support the Uluru Statement from the Health to supervise a process of agreement-making and truth-telling because its implementation will contribute to processes of greater national understanding.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
From my point of view and experience in psychology, particularly health psychology, we know how much social position and agency can influence health from landmark work undertaken by Sir Michael Marmot in Britain. When people are in life situations that are high demand with low control, have an effort-reward imbalance, low organisational justice, social isolation, shift work and job insecurity this affects their health; each damages health and contributes to the social gradient in health – the lower the social position the worse the health.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
From watching webinars and reading articles to help me understand the point of view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples I have come to understand this is important because having the Voice included in the Constitution it means it sits alongside a power enabling the Commonwealth parliament to determine its composition, powers and procedures in legislation. It would be “constitutionally entrenched, but legislatively controlled”. This establishes a balance between a constitutional protection of the Voice while allowing it to be adapted to future circumstances.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
I advocate for holistic approaches to health and well-being that include diverse people and forms of participation, enabling all individuals to achieve their goals or potential.
I support the three key elements to the reforms set out in The Uluru Statement: 1. Constitutional Change – Involving enshrining a First Nations Voice in the Australian Constitution that would empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 2. Legislative Change – Involving the establishment of a Makarrata Commission. The Makarrata Commission would supervise a process of agreement-making with Australian governments. 3. The Makarrata Commission – to oversee a process of truth-telling about Australia’s history and colonisation.
Associate Professor Shelley Wilkinson, AdvAPD