I am a lawyer born and raised on Cammeraygal land in Sydney. I studied on the land of the Gadigal and Bidjigal peoples, and I now work as a lawyer at a non-profit community legal centre on Gadigal land.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is the culmination of years of discussions and dialogue among First Nations communities seeking to address the injustices of the past. It breaks my heart that, while it has been 54 years since Indigenous people were counted in the census for the first time, we are still debating a constitutional voice to parliament. This is a humble request, but it is an important symbolic and practical step towards addressing inequality and giving Indigenous voices a seat at the table.
We have seen time and time again that when the people affected by policies and laws are excluded from the decision-making progress, or 'consulted' as a box-ticking exercise, those policies and laws cannot be fit for purpose and will ultimately fail to achieve their goal. This is even more applicable to First Nations communities who continue to live with the impacts of racist policies and intergenerational trauma. Indigenous people should have the right to participate in meaningful political debates about laws and policies that affect them and their communities.
I am proud to work on Gadigal land in the heart of our local Indigenous community, working with some of the most vulnerable members of our society to empower them, amplify their voices, and increase access to justice. In my daily work, I see the impact that generations of systemic racism and injustice have had on the lives and livelihoods of our First Nations community. Working in the area of domestic violence, the intergenerational trauma caused by government policies is glaringly clear. I believe it is our duty as Australians to come together in support of our First Nations communities and amplify their voices, which have for so long been silenced.
As a community lawyer who is actively engaged in law reform initiatives, I am acutely aware of how easy it is for legislation to be repealed or stripped back at the whim of the government of the day. An Indigenous Voice to Parliament is so critical to the essence of our nation, it must be enshrined in the Constitution to ensure that it withstands the ebbs and flows of politics and changes in government.