My name is Tiara Hawea, an ally living on Arrernte Country in Mparntwe (Alice Springs). My partner is a strong Eastern and Western Arrernte man (Ltyentye Apurte/Ntaria) and he has ensured our daughter and son grow to stay connected to their culture and community. I have proudly signed the Uluru Statement digital canvas and am writing this submission in support of a voice for Indigenous Australians in parliament.
Having lived in Mparntwe for the last 10 years through my teenagers years and now as an adult, I understand the vital role this voice will have. For too long now laws have been passed by non-indigenous individuals effecting the very people that it is concerning, the First Nations people; without their full consultation. A voice enshrined in the constitution will ensure practical changes that will see positive results for First Nations people.
The Australian governments efforts in closing the gaps in disadvantages between Indigenous and non-indigenous communities have been a movement kept in the forefront through media, strong activists in communities and Ken Wyatt, the Indigenous affairs minister. However, this is a job far too big for these individual outlets and it needs devoted attention. The hard truth mentioned by Dean Parkin is that those pushing so hard for an outcome may not get the opportunity to see the success as the gaps in life expectancy for Indigenous peoples are not on track to being closed, as well as the other areas outlined in the Closing the Gap framework.
Once a model for the Voice has been settled, the government’s election commitment to a referendum must be honoured and upheld. This model will ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people previously unheard have the opportunity to use this platform and be recognised as leadership figures.
My hopes for a Voice enshrined in the constitution stems deeper from wanting fellow Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to have a hand in controlling matters that apply to them but also so that my children, their family and our friends feel confident and comfortable with these choices as well.