Submission to Indigenous Voice Co-Design Process Interim Report to the Australian Government
It is a deep sense of justice that prompts me to write in support of the incorporation of a VOICE for First Nations people in the Australian Government. I am a ‘new immigrant’ in the sense that I have only lived in and been a citizen of Australia for forty years, and I am convinced that the time is right for us as a nation to embrace this opportunity to support of the rights of people who have been living here for millenia. I believe that, terms of simple natural justice, the collective voice of our Indigenous people has a right to be heard.
I take hope from the Uluru Statement from the Heart which has moved me and so many of my fellow Australians to address the question of Aboriginal people asking to be heard on matters that directly affect their lives. The elders undertook, of their own initiative, a long, extensive and thorough consultation process across their widespread communities, in order to draw up the Statement. It was a process that demanded compromise and widespread community agreement, vision and hope. It truly is a statement from the heart, and it needs to be recognised and welcomed by all of us across the political divide.
High rates of incarceration of Aboriginal people, youth hopelessness, children alienated from their parents, black deaths in custody, these are some of the ongoing issues that face us all as Australian citizens. The efforts of successive governments have proved to be dismally inadequate in addressing these issues, and it is clear to me and many, and it is the view of the Aboriginal people, that they can only be properly addressed and resolved if there is meaningful indigenous participation in the process.
Along with my fellow Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians, I call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice to be enshrined in the Constitution. I believe that the Australian public is better informed now than ever before about the disastrous effects of previous policies on Aboriginal people. We are also better informed about Aboriginal culture and appreciate that Indigenous knowledge can assist many of the environmental challenges we face.
I believe that we are ready to acknowledge our common responsibilities and enshrine in our Constitution a Voice for Indigenous People, in recognition of the valuable contributions such a Voice would make to Government policies that affect Indigenous communities, and which will ultimately benefit all Australian citizens.