To whom it may concern
Co-design process: Submission
I'm an Australian Lebanese woman from Sydney and I've grown up on the ancestral lands of the Gadigal and Bediagal clans of the Eora Nation. I am currently halfway through a Law and Social Science degree at Macquarie University (on the land of the Wallamattagal people of the Dharug nation).
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a truly incredible document. It is the synthesis of perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from across the country - from the multitudes of clans, tribes and nations that comprise Indigenous Australia - concerning Reconciliation, a concept we (Australia) have been purportedly working towards for decades. The Uluru Statement from the Heart doesn't simply provide A roadmap towards this, but THE roadmap: one featuring reasonable and meaningful changes to be enacted in our Australian society so as to better include and represent our Indigenous population, and better reflect their culture, history and heritage. Most important this roadmap was developed by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples themselves, and while it doesn't have unanimous support from every individual Indigenous Australian, in broader terms it does represent consensus.
It is vital that Indigenous people have a say in the matters that affect them in order for genuine, effective change to occur. Any attempt to rectify the systematic and intergenerational trauma that they have experienced and continue to experience is hindered if it does not incorporate the direct, lived experience of Indigenous people themselves. Furthermore, giving Indigenous people self-determination pays respect to their unique status as the traditional custodians and caretakers of this land, as well as the oldest living culture on Earth.
I don't think it's important for the Voice to Parliament to be constitutionally enshrined, I think it is critical. The point of the Voice to Parliament, the point of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and the point of Reconciliation as a whole concept is to facilitate a united Australia where Indigenous and non-Indigenous people truly have an equal place, and this would not be more evident than if a body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander self-determination were enshrined in the document at the heart of the nation by the people. In 1900, the Australian people (excluding Indigenous people) voted to become one federated nation. In 1967, the Australian people voted again to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the census. In 2021, the Australian government has the opportunity to call on the Australian people once again and take another step towards Reconciliation. Constitutional entrenchment of the Voice to Parliament will reflect the will of the Australian populace for a reconciled Australia, install it as a near-permanent fixture of our nation's foundational document and therefore ensure that the recognition of this desire cannot be abolished by a Parliament in future.
I cannot and do not speak on behalf of any Indigenous person nor community, but the empowering effect that genuine representation has in terms of both individual and community psychology is significant. Seeing your own people contribute to laws that will affect you strengthens your faith in government and your belief that real change may be made for the better.
I am hopeful that the Australian government, as the representative body of the Australian people, will listen to our combined voices and give effect to the requests we make of it.