2632

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Submission Number
2632
Participant
Elischa Swan
Submission date

I call for a change to the Australian constitution that enshrines a First Nations Voice, which will empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, give them a seat at the table when issues affecting their lives are at stake and ensure consistent approaches can be sustained in spite of changes in government.
The constitutional enshrinement of the Voice, it is my understanding, means that although the details of the Voice will not be constitutionally entrenched, but subject to legislative adaptation, the existence of the Voice and its primary function will be ensured. This is the change that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples all supported in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Therefore I, as a non-Indigenous person wishing to begin the practical process of Makarrata – (a coming together after a [painful] struggle), endorse this, because it has been too long that policies have continued to worsen the lives of First Nations people through their lack of respect for the need for self-determination and self-governing that has always been called for.
I would also like to suggest that the detail of this Voice should enable previously unheard First Nations leaders equal opportunity to be selected, alongside those who are already well known.
It is four years since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was delivered. Although the Prime Minister rejected it, many Australians agree with it wholeheartedly and desire to walk forward with First Nations peoples in its spirit and achieve its goals of systemic reform. We call for the referendum promised in the last election – namely the opportunity to vote on a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice: immediately followed by enabling legislation for the Voice.
This legislative change must establish a ‘Makarrata Commission’ which will supervise agreement making with Australian governments and oversee a process of truth-telling about Australia’s history and colonisation. This ‘Truth’ aspect of the Uluru Statement is vital and must be implemented as behaviour changing education for all, not just the introduction of more comprehensive truth telling in schools. The truth of our history and its continued legacy must permeate into all the power structures of this country so that silence and apathy around racial issues cannot continue largely unquestioned, as it has to this day.
There is enough passion for justice and healing in the general public to vote on this issue in a referendum – I call on my government to delay this process no further. The plethora of disastrous social issues only growing in severity can be tackled by the direct involvement of First Nations leadership. It is time.