Dr Alan Chenoweth
Dear Co-Design Body
Submission for Co-design process
I was born & raised in Mackay, North Queensland and am currently a Brisbane-based retired environmental consultant, planner and landscape architect, now with a PhD in environmental & professional ethics. After a lifetime involved in ecological sciences and design relating to the land and nature, I have belatedly come to appreciate the wisdom and cultural aspects of Australia's traditional custodians and their 60,000+ years of sustainable environmental management - all Australians could and should learn much from Indigenous knowledge. I also co-chair a committee preparing a Reconciliation Action Plan for the Environment Institute of Australia & New Zealand.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
The Uluru Statement from the Heart represents the aspirations of and generous offer of reconciliation from the Indigenous Peoples of Australia, and it is incumbent upon us (morally, and for the future good of our nation) to respond positively, acknowledge and take responsibility for the past, enshrine a First Peoples' Voice to Parliament, and ensure our grandchildren and future generations grow together in harmony.
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
It will be permanent and cannot be un-done by changes in legislation, at the whim of the government of the day. Also, constitutional recognition carries the imprimatur of the Australian people, not just the elected government.
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
It would go some way to absolving a dark stain on our history, and allow us all to face the future together
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
It will show that they are respected and valued.
I am impressed with the Sami Parliaments and the Nunavut legislature - these have given the indigenous peoples of these countries considerable autonomy and responsibility, leading to enhanced respect and better outcomes. The Uluru Statement is not calling for anything like this degree of self-governance - just a voice to parliament. They aren't asking for much .. the least we (white Australians) can do is to work with them to make it happen
Dr Alan Chenoweth