2529

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Submission Number
2529
Participant
Terry Coughlin
Submission date

Terry Coughlin
(redacted) Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

To whom it may concern

Submission for Co-design process

I am a 57 year old Australian living in the UK, in a small village in Gloucestershire, with my English wife and three children aged 12, 12 and 20. I was born in Seymour, Victoria. I went to school at Assumption College Kilmore, Victoria. After school I lived in Melbourne until I departed for a one year holiday in Europe in 1987. I'm still here in Europe.

Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is important to me. It is important to all Australians. It is important because all Australians need to look at and acknowledge the history of our country. All Australians. I don't know how the injustices and problems that we have inherited from our colonial history can be confronted. I don't know how Indigenous history and culture can help us confront the irreparable damage done to our country. I do know that nothing will be accomplished until there is acknowledgement, discussion, reparation and action in the form of legally binding legislation. The Uluru statement is a vital step towards the actions that must be taken to heal our country and to heal all Australians. This is what I believe.

Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
It is important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution because we can see from our history how easy it is to manipulate legislation to the detriment of Indigenous peoples. A Constitutional presence for Indigenous peoples is imperative.

Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
I don't understand why this is a question. It is self-evident that Indigenous people must have a say in the matters that affect them. It is a national disgrace that that is not already the case. The injustices of Indigenous life since European colonial settlement up to the present day horrors of deaths of Indigenous people in custody require representation in Parliament, but also in all walks of life: Law enforcement, health care, social care, education, Indigenous affairs. In every aspect of Australian life. We are nowhere near where we need to be.

How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
My community is the community of expat Australians. As such I would like to claim to be a proud Australian. Not a nationalistic Australian but an Australian that is proud of the nation's achievements, culture, heritage, flora & fauna and landscapes. And of the people, all the people, of the nation.

I cannot be proud of much of Australia's history.

A Voice to Parliament is something that I could feel pride in; I would hope my children would also feel pride in it too; I would hope that all in the expat community would feel that a Voice to Parliament would be something that Australia has got right; that it is the right and just thing to do.

My teenage years in Australia, my primary and secondary education, taught me nothing of Indigenous culture, history, life. I saw no evidence of Indigenous life in my home town of Seymour and later in Melbourne. It was only through music that I was made aware of Indigenous life; Midnight Oil, Yothu Yindi and later Gurrumul and Archie Roach.

On a brief visit back to Australia for my father's funeral seven years ago I visited the National Gallery of Victoria in Federation Square. The galleries full of Indigenous art and artefacts made me angry; made me weep; Where had all of this been when I was a child, when I was growing up as an Australian, when I was being educated. It had been hidden along with everything to do with Indigenous life. That is not what I want for the future of Australia. Or for the future of Australians. Or for my kids.

Thank you,
Terry Coughlin