To whom it may concern
Submission for Co-design process
My name is Ruben Ernest Brown, I am a Yuin man and I grew up in Bulli in the Illawarra. When I was a child, myself and my two brothers were removed from my mother and placed in Keelong Boys Detention Centre in Wollongong. I now live in Warilla.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
The Uluru Statement from the Heart has given me hope for our younger generations and a clear path forward determined by us.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
I would value the opportunity to have my voice heard and design solutions for our community that Aboriginal people have ownership over, such as solutions that are funded and determined BY the Aboriginal community.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
At this stage I understand that having the voice enshrined in the constitution will make it a more permanent fixture, however I do not feel yet that this will necessarily benefit our community and have concerns that this may take some of our rights away. I feel that this process should not be rushed through, and should engage in full consultation of the Australian community. This consultation should be promoted using all available resources so that all Australians can understand, contribute and make an unbiased decision when asked in a referendum to change the Constitution as this affects everybody. I feel that this would be properly in line with the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
The government policy that allowed me to be removed from my family and placed in a detention centre as a child lead me to be a victim of sexual violence at the hands of government staff. This experience has resulted in great personal suffering which still impacts me day to day 36 years later. Government policies such as these have long done harm to Aboriginal people. I see this moment as an opportunity to seek a new government standard in Australia with the opportunity to find pathways to introduce Aboriginal laws, standards, procedures and protocols. I feel that Aboriginal people having a say over their own matters is important and will prevent further suffering to our people. I see the value in more attention being paid to our elders and their voices being heard not just in Australia but around the world, so that we can provide learnings from our long and enduring culture.
Beyond the Voice, I see a lot of potential for Aboriginal Australians to take ownership over the path forward, this could include: - Creating a fund with donations/contributions from Aboriginal Australians (eg $1 donation) - Funds from those on Centrelink payments could be put towards job creation. - Set up a board of elders, advocates, ex ADF, prominent aboriginal community members to make decisions on where funds are spent - Approach overseas investors who are currently on Aboriginal Australian soil mining or building. - Create a First Nations bank in partnership with existing banks (eg, Bendigo, IMB). - Campaign through letters, advertising to inform and encourage ATSI of benefit and potential vision of the scheme. - Funding could be put towards training and employment creation for Aboriginal kids, support for those with AOD addictions, counselling & psychology support. - Gather evidence, from historical records to provide education about peaceful behaviour that First Fleet observed when they landed Eg. No signs of violence amongst First nations mob. - Establish a yearly walk to promote/teach AOD skills, with tribal camps established along the walk to practice traditional methods. Structure in services to support recovery from AOD, psychology, DV support, health workers. - All Australians can learn from a National elders group through these walks, starting from Uluru, settling camps around the nation, walking troubled souls to good spiritual health.