Monday, May 29, 2017

The Future for "Recognition" of First Peoples in Australia

" 2017 we seek to be heard"

   It was inspirational to catch 'most' of Q&A tonight on ABC TV here in Australia. The Panel were at Parliament House and held a discussion and answered audience questions following on from the gathering of community representatives that formed part of a two year long process within consultation with indigenous people about the future, about "recognition" and about genuine change.
   I have always been a supporter of the movement for 'Recognition' of Aboriginal people in the Australian Constitution. For me it's always been as another step on the path to further efforts towards reconciliation on indigenous terms. Tonight's discussion canvassed this and many other important aspects...
   For me the standout reminder was something I believe about any current issue you can name. Our politicians seem unwilling or are simply unable to imagine a vision for a better future of our country. This is what to takes to bring real change, to bring people along with you and to LEAD!!
   Indigenous issue and identity are/is bigger than the current conversation... It's also true that when you read the new Constitutions of countries who have renewed theirs in light of historical mistakes and issues, there are some outstanding ethos statements and visionary thinking. e.g Canada was mentioned tonight and it particularly describes who people see themselves as and how they hope to be seen by others in terms of their core values... not so much how territories will organise their commerce and law... 

It would be brilliant to see a new Constitution, not just an amended one...
The gathering at Uluru was always going to be a landmark and it didn't fail to deliver, it's only the vacuum of Politicians reactions since that prevent the work from being recognised for the visionary work it is, especially as a response is often that "aboriginal people themselves are not of one mind on these issues"... Here's hoping it creates a desire for people to suspend their opinions and take time to listen to indigenous voices, to hear the imagined future where incarceration, poor health and absence of opportunity are all addressed... Now is the time to know what the Statement says and to read it and sit with it for a while and to listen to Aboriginal people, their story, perspective and hopes...

We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from 'time immemorial', and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or 'mother nature', and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link Is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?

With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia's nationhood.

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination.

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.

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