To whom it may concern
Co-design process: Submission for Yolanda Lovie-Toon
I'm a 27 year old non-Indigenous woman who grew up in Meanjin (Brisbane) and who now lives and works on Ngunnawal country (Canberra). I have a PhD in public health and therefore I have a in-depth understanding and a strong appreciation of the many ways in which the social, legal, cultural and political environments we live in can have significant effects on our health and wellbeing.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
I think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is an incredibly important statement and an essential step in the process of moving towards reconciliation with First Nations people in Australian. One of the defining aspects of colonisation is the denial of voice and representation. The effects of this are so widespread and continue to this day. The Uluru Statement of the Heart is important as a way to restore some of the many things that have been lost or diminished through the process of colonisation (culture, connection, dignity, self-determination and power).
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
I strongly believe the Voice to Parliament should be enshrined in the Constitution, not only in legislation, as the Constitution is at the very core of the governance of our nation. The constitution defines who we are as a country and represents our core values and aspirations as a nation, and therefore should include the Voice to Parliament.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
For reconciliation in Australia to have even have the possibility of being achieved in the future it is imperative that First Nation Australians are given the right to govern their own futures. Closing the gaps in life expectancy, education levels, incarcerations rates etc. will never be achieved until First Nation Australians are granted what they have asked for through the Uluru Statement of the Heart. They know what their families and communities need and they are asking for it. It is up to you to acknowledge their right to self-determination and to ensure this right is protected within the Australian constitution.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
A Voice to Parliament could contribute to significant improvements to not only the lives and wellbeing of First Nations Australians, but also non-Indigenous Australians. First Nations Australians are the experts of their own lives and communities. Having their voice and their knowledge and their culture and values imbedded into the Australian constitution and the Australian parliament will achieve far more for First Nations Australians than non-Indigenous Australians will ever be able to do. I want to be able to be proud of the country I live in and to be proud of my country I need to see that we recognise, respect, value and honour the voices of the people who have lived here the longest.