Greenwith, South Australia
Dear Co-Design Body
Co-design process: Submission for Carl Coolen
My name is Carl and I am the 47 year old Australian born son of immigrants from Great Britain and the Netherlands. I proudly live in Kuarna country and have done since I was born. I am a medical scientist researching Lung cancer, but have previously worked in retail and as an electrician. I am married with 3 children, 2 of whom are adults. I grew up raised as Catholic in a socially minded family. I have been lucky enough to trek through parts of Australia that have significant cultural and spiritual links to the first nations people.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
I grew up, like most people of my generation, ignorant to plight of indigenous Australians. Inexplicably we were never taught first nations history, particularly the trauma inflicted by colonisation and the lasting impact it has had on indigenous peoples. Only through my own reading and conversations with others have I begun to appreciate the breadth of issues. Quite simply, The Uluru statement from the heart is important because indigenous communities have united from around Australia to use one voice to illustrate both the past failings of Australian policies, and to show how we can move forward as a nation- Australia can't hide from these issues anymore nor can we pretend they we can continue with 'business as usual.'
Why do you think it's important to enshrine the Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, rather than include it only in legislation?
By enshrining the voice to parliament in the constitution we acknowledge that we as a nation fully recognise and give equal voice to the first Australians such that their issues are given the same prominence as other affairs facing this country. Laws can be changed and reversed, however this more difficult to achieve within the constitution thereby protecting the voice of Indigenous peoples.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
Indigenous people want to be in charge of their own destiny and not reliant on others who do not fully appreciate or understand the significant issues at hand. A voice for Indigenous people in the constitution would empower communities, and be a force for change. Individuals and communities can be heard and understood and have laws passed that truly reflect their vision for the future. I also believe that It can inform and educate non indigenous Australians. We can work side by side to bring about tangible changes that really impact indigenous peoples- reducing incarceration levels (particularly of youth), increasing life expectancy, improving health and education, connecting individuals and families to country, enacting laws that take account cultural considerations. A voice would hold the people of Australia (and the governments) to account- they would question our intent and make sure that Indigenous peoples are not impacted negatively. I'm fortunate and proud to be represented by like minded people in parliament, imagine then how an first nation person would feel? Validated and represented. .
How could a Voice to Parliament improve the lives of your community?
There is no doubt that an Indigenous voice to parliament would have significant and lasting impact in my community, both locally and nationally. You can imagine that schools would introduce curriculum to teach our kids indigenous history so that they can then hold governments and communities to account, there would be recognition and protection of culturally and spiritually significant sites, and maybe the introduction of indigenous names for landmarks.
For me, these changes are long overdue. I cannot believe that we are a modern day first world nation that does not give voice to the first nation peoples in the constitution. A voice would allow this nation to confront our past and acknowledge the atrocities caused, no matter how long ago. The nation would have an opportunity to view Indigenous issues through the lense of those who live it everyday, surely that's a good thing.