Dear Co-Design Body
Submission to Co-design process
I am a Jewish Australian. The experience of near decimation of my people during the Holocaust and the unfolding horrific images and stories that started to leak out from the silent shock of the aftermath of Nazi Germany were only slowly coming to the surface as I was growing up. At this time also, Australia followed a policy of “assimilation” and there was very little curiosity from the dominant culture about anyone who was “different”. When the policy of "Multiculturalism" was introduced, my life started to change and it became acceptable to connect with my community as an aspect of pride and survival. This extended to all other cultures, ethnicities, religions and groups, including Aboriginal ones. My awareness of the oppression of Aboriginal people was sparked by a trip through Redfern to the airport when I was very young, where I was alarmed to discover that there were impoverished people living in my own city in what were obviously overcrowded and decrepit slums. I remember my heart weeping for these people and especially for the children, wondering how this could be. It precipitated a lifelong interest in disadvantage and social and cultural oppression. I later went on to study archaeology and anthropology, majoring in Aboriginal Prehistory so that I could understand more about Aboriginal culture and society. I currently am Auntie to an Aboriginal partner’s children, after the untimely but in no way unique early death of their mother.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
When I first heard the Uluru Statement from the Heart, my heart leapt and I wept from the sheer relief. It is so important for us all to hear the significance of the 60,000 plus years of deep connection with this land to the First Nations people of this place, the oldest living culture in the world, and one that managed to preserve an enormous amount of biodiversity through their adaptation to climate and landscape. As a Jewish Australian with a link to the sacred land and stories of my ancestors (Israel), the sacred custodial bond of Australian Indigenous people to their land and their stories is completely obvious.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
A Voice to Parliament does a number of things: it highlights the role of Indigenous people as the First Nations of our land; it enables Aboriginal people to play a role in their own destiny instead of continuing to depend on government for their survival; it places back in the hands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Is people decisions affecting their land, culture, communities and outcomes.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
Indigenous people urgently need to have a say over matters that affect them as they are the only people who can understand the issues and realise the solutions. In addition, all humans deserve the respect and recognition to their own self determination.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
A Voice to Parliament means that the Aboriginal people can together consider and respond to policies and legislation that will affect their issues, their needs, and their capacity to thrive.
Enshrining the Voice in the Constitution is fundamental to the values of us as Australians, honouring the role of Aboriginal peoples as First Nations custodians of this land, and as responsible for the wellbeing and continuity of their 60,000 year culture.