Dear Co-Design Body
Submission for Murray Barson
I live on the edge of Melbourne on Diamond Creek on Wurundjeri Country.
I was born in Melbourne, have lived in four different states of Australia, and earlier in my life in Canada. I have some experience of remote Aboriginal communities having worked for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and done stints as a doctor in inland Queensland, far north WA and regional Victoria.
Why do you think the Uluru Statement from the Heart is important?
Our national history is tainted by countless episodes of violence, at times genocidal, by exploitation and injustice, by ignorant interventions and patriarchal disregard for human rights. This continues to the present day. The principles distilled in the Statement from the Heart were defined after many hours of sincere and passionate discussion by people from all backgrounds: traditional elders from remote communities and major cities; urban youth; professionals and academics. They came together from all parts of Australia. They were drawn to the meeting at Uluru by a shared sense of urgency. It is time for recognition of the abhorent abuses of the past to be acknowledged. Time to show respect to the oldest civilisation on the planet; time for redress and apology; time for common decency.
The voices of our first nation peoples must be heard. Only through a Constitutionally recognised body can we be sure that these voices have authority and legal validity. We have had endless commissions, enquiries, statements and consultations whose findings have been ignored or sidelined.
Why is it important for Indigenous people to have a say in the matters that affect them?
That Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander people should have a say in all matters that affect them is self-evident. Programs that address the appalling rates of incarceration, the tragic health situation and the management of Country have been shown repeatedly to be most effective when there is major Indigenous input.
The Government made a promise.
We need a referendum with questions carefully crafted to exclude bias.
We need a Statutory body the speaks directly to Government with Constitutional authority.
We need genuine reform that enshrines in law the principle that the voices of the traditional owners of this land be powerfully heard and respected.
These measures are long-overdue and urgently needed.