2272

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Submission Number
2272
Participant
Hugh Scobie
Submission date

Hugh Scobie
West Hindmarsh

To Co-Design Body

Submission for Co-design process

I am Hugh Scobie, a 33 year old Australian person from Adelaide, South Australia. I hold a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Hons, History, First Class) from the University of Adelaide. I am a John F. Kennedy Memorial Scholar and also studied at the College of William Mary, Virginia, U.S.A. I am currently employed by the WOMADelaide Festival as Sustainability Officer and I am also the Co-Director of Ancient World 5000 Pty Ltd, a small business that operates as a Live Music Venue. I have lived in Adelaide for the majority of my life, yet I have also traveled relatively widely. I have lived internationally, in countries such as the USA and Myanmar, and also spent time traveling throughout Australia. I have worked in a voluntary capacity for both the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement (SA) and for the South Australian Native Title Service.

Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?

The Uluru Statement from the heart is important to me as it represents a chance to change the current relationship between Indigenous people, non-Indigenous Australians and the governments of Australia. Any dispassionate and relatively objective view of Australian history reveals just how complex those relationships are, and anyone who has experience working with the legal complexities facing many Indigenous Australians, as well as the myriad social issues that give rise to those complexities, appreciates the need for a change in the discourse. The Uluru Statement from the Heart is important because it is perhaps the first time in our young nation's history that the vast majority of Indigenous communities and nations have come together and presented a truly unified statement regarding the issues they face and how they want to be treated by our nation. It does not sugar-coat the ugly parts of our history, nor does it take a 'black-arm band' view. It is honest, simple and effective. It clearly lays out a pathway forward that will help Indigenous people in Australia and how other Australians can support that.

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 ought to be enshrined in the Constitution, as opposed to only by legislation, as we have seen Australian governments make legislation that is openly hostile to Indigenous Australians. By enshrining this Voice in the Constitution, this would ensure that successive governments are obligated to respect the existence of the Voice, as opposed to being able to deconstruct it or otherwise impose new or different legal obligations on it by passing or amending legislation. The Voice to Parliament should not exist at the mercy of the Australian government of the day - it is too important to allow the politicking and small-mindedness of governments to derail or otherwise impede it.

How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?

A Voice to Parliament would improve the lives of my community by allowing Indigenous Australians to speak directly to Parliament and to the wider Australian community about the issues they face.

Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?

Self-determination is the central guiding principle in democratic nations, including in legal documents such as the Charter of the United Nations, and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) f the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These legal instruments have all been ratified and as such should be considered statements of Australian domestic law. Indigenous Australians ought therefore to have the same rights under the law in matters that affect them. Aside from a strictly legal perspective, from a productive and problem-solving perspective it is common sense for people to have a say in the matters that affect them. They are the most likely to have an informed, nuanced and considered opinion on the issues facing them, and in the best position of all to make decisions on how to proceed in dealing with whatever those issues are. It is a sign of basic respect that we allow people to speak on issues that affect them. It is time for Australia to allow Indigenous Australians to speak directly on matters that affect them, and the Uluru Statement from the Heart outlines very clearly how this could be achieved.

The decision to have a Constitutionally enshrined Voice in Parliament is perhaps the most important decision regarding Indigenous Australians in my lifetime. Not since 1967 has there been a referendum on these issues, and I truly believe that the Voice to Parliament represents a new way forward for all Australians to heal and come together as a stronger nation.

Yours sincerely,
Hugh Scobie