NAKARA NT 0810
29th April 2021
Dear Co-Design Body
Submission to Co-design process
My name is Yasmin Jarman. I am a saltwater Larrakia, Yawuru and Wadjigan woman from
Darwin, Larrakia country. I have lived and worked in the south on Ngunnawal and Bunurong
country for the last 17 years, before returning home to Darwin last year. I am in my first
year of studying Bachelor of laws at Charles Darwin University (CDU) and am a member of
the CDU First Nations of Australia Law Student Society. I am also a member of NT Shelter
and Darwin Aboriginal & Islander Women's Shelter.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is important because it represents the wishes of First
Nations Australians to have true self determination. First Nations were not involved in the
writing of the Constitution, which is an issue that can be addressed by having a local,
regional and national Indigenous Voice body. First Nations people are still living in two
worlds and two laws; Australia and First Nations Australia. As Dr Darryl Cronin writes, the
incorrect eighteenth-century assumptions of ‘terra nullius’ and First Nations people not
having organised society, laws, land ownership or sovereignty. This needs to be reckoned
with because these incorrect beliefs are still ingrained in our government institutions, policy
making bodies and judicial decisions. It's important that we address the wrongs of the past
and the government does not perpetuate the attempted erasure of First Nations peoples.
First Nations people want truth telling and a voice to government because we know what is
best for our people and First Nations countries.
The Constitution is one of the founding documents of the Australian state and one of the
most important binding authorities which governs us, yet does not recognise First Nations
sovereignty or right to self-determination. Where legislation can change with a change in
government in the election cycle, the Constitution cannot be changed so easily. Australia
needs stability not uncertainty due to First Nations Voice only recognised in legislation. First
Nations Voice to Parliament needs to be enshrined in the Constitution because it is the right
thing to do. Were it not for Australia being incorrectly classified as 'terra nullius', First
Nations laws would have remained unless altered by the King/Queen. We need to right this
wrong and mend the relationship with First Nations people and the Australian state by
having First Nations voice enshrined in the Constitution.
A Voice to Parliament can improve the lives of my family and community by enabling
greater agency. First Nations led solutions, priorities and projects can have appropriate
consideration. My community would have a better respect for the government and
Australian laws if we knew that Indigenous Voice has a role in government when policy is
being made, because we would have more trust that our say has been considered.
It's important that First Nations people have the right to self-determination and a proper
say in matters affecting our lives and country. We have been custodians of this land and sea
country for over 60,000 years, with knowledge passed down from generation to generation
for time immemorial. It is a lost opportunity not to be able to share First Nations expertise
and wisdom with policy makers. There is an impasse in the colonial relationship between
the Australian state and First Nations people. To move forward, we need recognition of First
Nations people and voice in our government institutions and in decision making. We know
what is best for our people and the country, land and waterways. It's time for truth telling
and true recognition of First Nations peoples in this country's governance.
I am personally supportive of having designated spots for each First Nations Australian
language group in local Voice bodies because each group have their own interests and
sovereignty. The national voice body would appropriately have a smaller number of
members and have equal gender balance representation.
First Nations people come with an open heart but we need to be heard with open ears. First
Nations and other Australians deserve to gain some of the wisdom and knowledge of the
oldest surviving peoples in the world. It's time to right the wrongs of the past and to come
together in truth telling, sharing and mutual responsibility.