2188

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Submission Number
2188
Participant
Barry Sullivan
Submission date

Barry Sullivan
Narellan NSW 25

To whom it may concern

Submission to Co-design process

I am a 73 yr old retired married man and father of two with a wide range of work and life experience. I served in the Australian Army Reserve [CMF] for 16 yrs. I have worked in education, health and disability services, transport and successfully owned and operated a small business. I was the first Level 2 coach in the Camden/Wollondilly area and held many coaching and sports club committee positions over a period of 20 years. I identify as a man of Australian indigenous descendants from the First Nation Wiradjuri mob of the Central West of New South Wales. I am a member of the Trangie Local Aboriginal Land Council.

The Uluru Statement has plainly highlighted the powerlessness of First Nation people to influence legislative decisions made by every level of government, this power imbalance has existed right from the time of white settlement up to and including the present day. From the time of the first fleet convict settlement, laws and regulations have been imposed on Indigenous people in a patriarchal way that always overtly suggested that despite forty thousand years of a continuous harmonious existence others knew what was best for them. This proposition and the resultant impact and subjugation of a proud people is surely the definition of racism. Indigenous Australians have served proudly in every war that involved Australians since the Boar Wars and always showed that they were the equal of their digger brothers in every noble respect and yet, when they returned from many of those conflicts they were unable to vote or have a beer at the bar with those same digger mates. These attitudes changed over time because those white Australians saw and understood the inequality those indigenous brothers were subjected to, and for the first time understood how they could bring their traditional skills and culture to advantage and enhance the lives of all Australians.

Put quite simply, a Voice to Parliament would highlight the difference between a patriarchal approach to making rules and laws, and an approach that accounted for the unique diversity of the Australian people, its flora and fauna and the positive impact only a continuation of forty thousand years of awareness of that uniqueness could offer all Australians.

It is imperative to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation? Only a voice enshrined in the Constitution would give all our people the opportunity to decide which path to follow regarding aspects of traditional cultural significance and questions of how indigenous peoples future could be determined.

Indigenous Australians have always shown that their respect for country is an exquisite example of how to manage, work with, and where necessary repair country. An Indigenous Voice may be a critical part of shaping strategies and solutions that could assist parliaments when dealing with the challengers of living with climate change.

The Australian Parliament is made up of many voices, government voices, opposition voices and independent voices. An Indigenous Voice would not alter the fact that laws could only be passed with the approval of a majority of those voices. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last month that his Government remained focused on practical matters such as improving health and education outcomes and tackling domestic violence. This statement highlighted the fact that his government will be taking precisely the same parochial approach that previously unsuccessful regimes took when dealing with the advancement and improvement of the lives of Indigenous Australians. Historically these words in themselves have made not the slightest difference. An Indigenous Voice to Parliament will be a modest and yet totally dynamic approach that I for one totally recommend.

Kind regards,
Barry Sullivan