From My Heart to Yours
I am writing this submission is support of the Uluru Statement From the Heart based on my personal experiences. I am a Non-Indigenous woman who has the privilege of being part of my Sister in Laws mob. That alone makes it very personal as I have a 2 nieces and 1 nephew who are First Nations people of the Gunai/Yuin Nations along with the other associated relatives within our family. What makes us out of the ordinary is that my family’s heritage is Jewish and like so many Jewish families we carry the generational scars of the Holocaust and the continuing affects of Anti-Semitism. Something that seems to be growing even in Australia at this very moment.
More relevant though is my life long activism and commitment to equality. I became involved in the civil rights campaigns of the 1970’s and some years later became involved in Aboriginal adult education programs for mature women, vocational education, restorative justice, mediation, NAIDOC events, Refuge Management. Having the great privilege or working with prominent Indigenous activists, both women and men and community Elders has been one of the most outstanding experiences in my life. Listening to their personal stories has taught me in very real terms how very different their lives were from my white privileged life; a safe house of bricks and mortar, fresh food, running water, toilets that flush, school,university and a career. Not so for my Aboriginal peers many of whom have had to live in tin houses lined with newspaper, subsisting on poor food no access to basic amenities and limited education. This is discriminatory bigoted social engineering of the worst kind. Cruel heartless and unfair. My grandfather always told me that our skin colour might be different but we all bleed the same colour. People are people and that is how I was brought up. I judge others by their honesty, integrity, loyalty, ethics and values. What else is there? Certainly not colour, religion or gender and so on.
What really upsets me is that I can reflect on almost 50 years and yet I see so little advancement for our First Nations Brothers and sisters. I have witnessed appalling racism is the NSW far west. One particular event comes to mind. I was standing in a small supermarket in Bourke waiting to pay for some fruit. An elderly Uncle was in front of me waiting to pay for his groceries when the checkout assistant told him to go to the back of the queue and wait until myself and the other white customers were served. I was shocked I had never seen such blatant aggressive behaviour in my life. I stepped up told the young women I would wait my turn and refused to be served. This vile behaviour still goes on in many cities and towns. I live in the Shoalhaven, home to the largest Aboriginal population outside Sydney, Yuin Country, Salt Water people; home of the Jerrinja, Wandi Wandandian, Walbanja, Murramurrang, Djiringanhj stretching from La Perouse to the Victorian border. So many of these people are my friends, my family, my teachers, my mentors, my guides. I have so much to learn from a beautiful rich culture that I love and cherish.
We, white people are honour and duty bound to restore and rectify the wrongs of the past. We cannot change the past but we can make sure the future is different. Kevin Rudd made the apology it is now time to set a new course. With love in our hearts, determination, good will and humility we all must walk together to remove the stains of history to create a new future based on respect and shared pride in the 60,000 years of history, culture and language.
Makarata now. Recognition Now
Submitted in good faith and will to make things right