2563

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Submission Number
2563
Participant
Tirrania Suhood
Submission date

I am the founder of InCollaboration, an organisation that builds relationships, strategy and ecosystems for the common good. I am also the lead catalyst/convenor of Sydney Commons Lab. The lab is made up of many contributors across universities, local groups and organisations and local council.

I am writing in support of the Uluru Statement. I strongly believe that the Voice to Parliament should be implemented and embedded in the constitution.

Firstly such an inclusion is an acknowledgement that sovereignty has never been ceded. Secondly it is necessary to give First Nations peoples a voice in support of self-determination. And thirdly it enables much more the bringing forward of their wisdom and immense gifts to our nation and to the world.

Most importantly, in 2009 Australia supported the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). As indicated on the Australian Human Rights Commission website, the Declaration is based on the fundamental rights of self-determination, participation in decision-making, respect for and protection of culture, and equality and non-discrimination. These four principles guide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, government, civil society and the private sector as they work to realise the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

I have watched the recent “Digital Roundtable on Spotlight on the NSW Report into First Nations Deaths in Custody plus Reflection on the 30 year anniversary of the Royal Commission.”, hosted by Aunty Glendra Stubbs and chaired by Larissa Behrendt. First Nations peoples' need for self-determination has not been respected. They need to be decision makers in their own lives and in their communities. The deaths and further inadequate responses and injustice will continue if this is not addressed.

Self-determination is what we all need. This is what our democracy is about. A First Nations Voice to Parliament will be a strengthening of our democracy.

In this time of cascading ecological, social and economic crises, our nation more than ever would benefit from the wisdom and knowledges of First Nations peoples, developed over tens of thousands of years. As well as their understanding of the land, they have ways of operating that appreciate interconnectedness and build meaningful relationships.

My support for Indigenous peoples has come from learning from and collaborating with them over many years. I previously was a CEO of a local organisation in Blacktown, Western Sydney, that was addressing alcohol and other drug issues and building stronger communities. I took a systems, strengths-based and network approach to tackling issues. I initiated many collaborations and worked closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and organisations.

More recently my experience has been through my activities for InCollaboration and Sydney Commons Lab and the event we hosted last year “Together Sydney: Communities Building Common Wealth”, supported by City of Sydney. We were promoting ways forward that put communities much more at the centre of our society, building their own local and common wealth. While the private sector and government have important roles to play we want to see much more community agency and stewardship of resources.

We have been building a relationship with David Beaumont, Senior Community Engagement Coordinator (Aboriginal Community Development), City of Sydney. He spoke a number of times at the event. The video can be found at Sydney Commons Lab’s youtube channel. David shared his vision for all of us to become the greatest expressions of ourselves - individually and collectively. The current status quo is not acceptable. David strongly emphasised that we need to understand that sovereignty has never ceded. At the same time he emphasised the strengths of First Nations peoples. He shared how the City of Sydney is a great example of honouring First Nations peoples, supporting their voices to be heard and their intellectual and property rights.

For a long time I have been building relationships for co-creation for transformational change. Yet since getting to know David, my confidence in bringing forward this approach has grown. I have understood from him that the nurturing and strengthening of relationships is central to Indigenous culture. The time and effort we put into building our own working relationship reflected this. More generally our society needs more connectedness, stronger relationships, building of trust and generative conversations for stronger, resilient communities as well as for innovation.

Tyson Yunkaporta’s book “Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World”, has received much acclaim nationally and internationally. Tyson shares ways of operating in Indigenous culture that would support us as a nation to build stronger communities, to recognise interconnectedness, the complexity of the challenges we are facing and work together on them. Tyson’s book has enlightened many people on the sophistication and significance of Aboriginal culture for all of us. The way in which Aboriginal people collaborated across the country to develop the Uluru Statement from the Heart is an example of this.

I’m delighted that Tyson has recently received funds to start up an Indigenous Knowledge Systems Startup Lab at Deakin University’s NIKERI (National Indigenous Knowledges Education and Research Institute).

Uncle Bruce Pascoe has also enlightened us through his book “Dark Emu” that Indigenous people were much more than hunter-gatherers. He has provided evidence of pre-colonial agriculture. He has founded the organisation Black Duck Foods. A representative presented at our event. I have learnt that only 1% of traditional food businesses are Indigenous owned. Significant appropriation of Indigenous intellectual property takes place. It is time for the theft to stop and First Nations peoples to be valued much more.

Once again I wholeheartedly support the Statement and inclusion of the Voice to Parliament in the constitution. More specifically I support:
1. The Voice be embedded in the Constitution through a referendum
2. The government must honour its election commitment to a referendum once a model for the Voice has been settled
3. Enabling legislation for the Voice must be passed after a referendum has been held in the next term of Parliament
4. The membership model for the National Voice must be larger than the proposed 18 people to ensure previously unheard Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the same chance of being selected as established leadership figures.

Tirrania Suhood
https://www.linkedin.com/in/tirrania-suhood-52368821/