First Nations Australians constitute the oldest continuous culture on earth.
As Indigenous X founder, Luke Pearson states, ‘Aboriginal cultures are acknowledged as the first makers of bread, the first astronomers, have the earliest evidence of religious beliefs and practices, were the creators of the oldest still standing man-made structure (the Brewarrina fish traps), and more other firsts that I could list here in under 1000 words.’
However, systemic racism is still a lived reality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who face an array of complex and multifaceted problems as a result.
These range from land rights issues to the failures of the justice system to poor allocation of resources in remote communities. At the heart of these lies Australia’s violent colonial history and our inability to adequately address the dispossession and disenfranchisement of First Nations people in Australia.
I support the Uluru Statement from the Heart and core elements – Voice Treaty Truth. The Uluru Statement presents fundamental reform through the establishment of a voice to parliament enshrined in the constitution, and a Makaratta Commission to supervise a process for treaties between government and First Nations peoples, and truthtelling so that, ‘this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.’
A First Nations Voice in the Constitution would create a direct line of communication between First Nations peoples and the parliament, creating specific input into policy. This is an important step towards self determination for First Nations peoples. The structure of such a Voice is still evolving. I have consulted with the Boon Wurrung people of Goldstein and based on their feedback I am supportive in principle and will continue to take their counsel.
A truth and justice process will recognise and address historic and ongoing injustices and form a key part of a treaty process.
Attempts to work towards reconciliation with Indigenous Australians must be centred around self-determination and autonomy and must be led by First Nations people themselves, rather than imposed by non-Indigenous Australians, no matter how well meaning.
This is why if elected I will advocate for the following:
- A referendum on the implementation of a First Nations Voice to Parliament as outlined in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
- The urgent implementation of all recommendations outlined in the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
- Urgent systemic reform, working with the states to ensure that –
o over-incarceration of First Nations people becomes a thing of the past
o First Nations children are not imprisoned, and Government raises the age of criminal responsibility
o The crisis of First Nations children being removed from homes and placed into Australia’s child protection system is addressed and that every effort is made to keep Indigenous families together.
- The implementation of First Nations-led Truth Telling processes looking into past and ongoing injustices experienced by First Peoples in all areas of life since colonisation
- The implementation of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s call for urgent funding for Indigenous community-led health solutions.
- The implementation of the RACP recommendation for Closing the Gap to be Indigenous-led.
o We have seen the extraordinary success of Indigenous-led health responses to COVID-19. These should be expanded as a matter of urgency
- The implementation of the 2021 Senate report recommending the re-establishment of the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing