The Minister for Indigenous Affairs’ unilateral decision to entrench more bureaucracy in our lives, not less, demonstrates why a Voice is needed. The state does not listen to our voices. Our numbers are too small and we do not sway elections. They are not listening and they are not hearing what is required to make change in communities. Rather, the power resides in non-Indigenous bureaucracies where decisions are made without our input. But we can change this, together.
Australians should be proud of the work that has been done by many First Nations on constitutional change. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives in the Uluru process underwent a deliberative dialogue process that involved a tightly structured intensive civics program and an assessment of legal options for reform.
Major credit should be given to the mums and dads, young people, grannies, elders and traditional owners who gave up three days, including their weekends, to speak with us about the Constitution. Many constitutional lawyers remarked that the constitutional consensus model that arose out of the dialogues and Uluru was one that no constitutional lawyer had conceived of before! This highlights the creativity that can happen when you give people the reigns over their lives.
The idea for better participation in the democratic life of the state, especially the Federal Parliament, is not a new ask. It is as equally prominent in Aboriginal political advocacy as a Treaty. It is also very common around the world. The sky will not fall down because we empower First Nations.
Out of Uluru, the consensus for a simple, singular alteration to the Constitution emerged. A body whose functions will be for the Parliament to legislate. This is the recognition we seek; recognition that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should have a direct say in decisions made about their lives.
On this Australia Day/Invasion Day/ Survival Day, I urge you to take the time to read the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which is issued to you, the Australian people. It is a sign of friendship.
Many of our old people are dying and they want some peace for their country. And as we continue through this period of bushfires and extreme weather events, it is fair to say that all Australians want peace for their country.
So let’s do this together as we did in 1967. And while we keep walking on this journey together, we wait with bated breath for Australian politicians to see the very Australian solution that is theirs to grab if they too could have faith in the Australian people the way we did at Uluru.
Professor Megan Davis is a Cobble Cobble woman from Queensland, constitutional lawyer and Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous at UNSW. She was a contributor to the Uluru Statement of the Heart.
Mamamia has written a letter you can send to your MP urging them to support the Uluru Statement. You can find it here, along with your MP’s contact details.
Feature image: Supplied/Thomas Mayor.
To support those affected by Australia’s devastating bushfire crisis, you can donate to the Australian Red Cross disaster relief and recovery fund. Your money will go towards supporting thousands of people in evacuation centres, emergency assistance including cash grants to people who have lost their homes, psychological first aid, and helping communities prepare for future disaster.
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