NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #VOICE #ClosingtheGap : Read Minister @KenWyattMP ‘LOOKING FORWARD, LOOKING BACK’ – 19TH ANNUAL VINCENT LINGIARI MEMORIAL LECTURE Darwin 15 August 

” What are you going to do tomorrow, in three months’ time and in a year’s time? – good will, while important, will not allow us to complete this journey and positively shift the pendulum.

How can we elevate our successes?

How can we give voice to those who feel voiceless?

And, how can we make sure their voices are heard as loudly as those who come from Canberra and in the media?

I want you to remember these words from Vincent Lingiari:

“Let us live happily together as mates, let us not make it hard for each other… We want to live in a better way together, Aboriginals and white men, let us not fight over anything, let us be mates.”

Minister Ken Wyatt ‘LOOKING FORWARD, LOOKING BACK’ – 19TH ANNUAL VINCENT LINGIARI MEMORIAL LECTURE Darwin 15 August

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP

Kaya wangju – hello and welcome, in Noongar.

As a Noongar, Wongi and Yamatji man standing before you, I thank Bilawara for her warm welcome this evening.

I formally acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand, the Larrakia people, and pay, my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

Good evening to all of you who have joined us this evening and in particular, I want to acknowledge my brothers and sisters who, many that I’ve walked, the challenges of change with.

The words of a song that was sung by the much-loved Slim Dusty of Looking Back and Looking Forward was the basis for what I wanted to cover tonight because of several reasons but Slim in particular was loved by Indigenous Australians – Slim was a storyteller.

Since the beginning of our time our nation’s sacred knowledge and identity has been kept and shared in song and in transmission through our stories.

Song is important to our culture, and to Australian culture. Music and the stories presented through songs are understood and loved by all Australians.

In Slim’s case, his songs were heard drifting throughout Australia’s living rooms, pubs, town halls, on the old wireless radio and through the records we played.

Through his songs and storytelling, Slim brought Indigenous Australia into suburbia, into the minds and hearts of the nation and the wider Australian culture.

The words you would’ve heard in his song ‘Looking Forward, Looking Back’ – are very poignant – and help paint an image of modern-day Australia.

I won’t sing it to you, because that’ll sort of distract from the quality of the music, but as Slim says:

Looking Forward, Looking Back.

We’ve come a long way down the track.

We’ve got a long way left to go.

Indigenous Australians, in everything we do, draw on the insights of our journey, the knowledge and wisdom of the past, and use that to embrace our future generations.

As we look back, we see the tracks of those who’ve walked before us.

For each of us, looking back evokes different memories and experiences, but I want us to be able to Look Forward – together – with a united purpose and determination for our children and grandchildren. And whilst for us as well – we have lived our time.

That’s why I’m here, with you, at the 19th annual Lingiari Lecture.

Tonight I will outline how I see us walking together, to advance:

  • Local truth-telling;
  • Constitution Recognition of Indigenous Australians;
  • Giving voice to local communities; and
  • Addressing disadvantage in Indigenous Australia.

So why did I start with Slim?

I’m told that, back in the day, there were juke-boxes here in the Territory that had nothing but Slim Dusty records on them. And as a Slim Dusty and Country Western music fan, I can certainly understand that sentiment.

But the thing that I really admired about him was that he sang about the land, about country, about people and our Australian way of life.

He sang about us, and to us, travelling in the old purple with his caravan to many remote communities and country towns across Australia.

Slim once said the most valuable performance fee he ever received in his entire career was the fee paid by a young girl called Miriam from Daly River here in the Territory.

Miriam and the children of the Daly River Mission wanted to see Slim perform but they couldn’t travel to Darwin to see him.

So together they saved up some money and wrote to Slim offering him an attractive performance fee if he came to their town.

The performance fee they offered was five dollars. But that was good enough for Slim.

He came to Daly, accepted the fee, and put on a show.

Over the course of his life, he visited that community many times. He’d go out to the mustering camp for dinner and share their black tea and bully beef sandwiches.

He’d watch and learn as the women and children showed him how to look for minnamindi.

He learnt how to cook with the honey-bag the kids brought back from the wild bees.

He fished with them; he went shooting with them.

He was invited to corroborees and learned how to make ochre paint.

Knowing us – and really knowing us – meant he could sing about us. He could share our stories in ways we didn’t have the means to and he could tell us stories of other places and people that helped us to understand our neighbours around us.

He sang of Trumby the ringer who couldn’t read or write…he sang of The Tall Dark Man in the Saddle…and of the painter Albert Namatjira.

He sang of a man called Bundawaal, “a King without subjects or crown”; a tribal elder reflecting on past struggles and glories, who couldn’t stop “an alien race without pity or grace” eradicating his people.

The song was based on a story that the local Aboriginal people told Slim while he was on tour.

He was singing about this when hardly anyone else in Australia was talking about us in the same way that he sang.

Slim opened the door for Indigenous people themselves to share the stage in the Australian country music industry, some of these early Indigenous pioneers in the Country Music Industry were people like Auriel Andrew, Jimmy Little and Gus Williams, just to name a few.

Picture a time in Australia, and this is for all the young ones out there, because for many of us here tonight know what it’s like to be told:

Where we could – and could not – sit.

Where we could – and could not – go.

You couldn’t sit on a seat at the cinema – you had to sit on a milk crate at the front of the auditorium or the old chairs.

You couldn’t enter a pub.

But Slim Dusty’s concerts were open to all, and we could sit wherever we liked.

People like Slim helped shift the pendulum.

Throughout our history, advancements in Indigenous affairs have swung like a pendulum.

This pendulum has shifted, back and forth, sometimes bringing meaningful advancement for Indigenous Australians, through events and actions of our own people, such as:

  • Albert Namatjira becoming the first Indigenous Australian to be given restricted citizenship,
  • Charlie Perkins Freedom Ride,
  • The election of Neville Bonner in 1971 to our nation’s Parliament, the first Indigenous Australian to serve in the Australian parliament. If you ever get the opportunity, go to the old museum at the parliament, the Old Parliament, and read his diary entry. He has a pillow on display and the diary entry says “I was never invited to any event, any function. At the end of a day, I would leave my office, go home to my trusted friend, my pillow, and would lay my head down to rest.”
  • Eddie Mabo’s fight and victory for Native Title and land rights, and of course
  • Vincent Lingiari’s Wave Hill walk-off and a strike which led to the Native Land Rights Act in 1976.

These significant achievements shifted the pendulum positively, however this hasn’t always meant the pendulum stayed that way.

While we have succeeded in some areas, in others we have not.

Looking forward, we must address where we have failed.

Where we have failed to permanently shift the pendulum on fundamental disadvantage with Indigenous Australia, on factors such as;

  • The basic right to an education,
  • The value of a full-time job,
  • Access uniformly to health care – and the need to address alarming rates of suicide and mental illness in our community,
  • And much, much more.

As I stand here tonight, looking forward, I am optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead for us – and equally as realistic about the challenges we must overcome.

LOCAL TRUTH-TELLING

As we embark on this journey – I am above all else wanting to have and encourage conversations across this nation – through these conversations we become more comfortable with each other, our shared past, present and future.

Truth-telling to me is not a contest of histories; it’s an understanding of history. It’s an acceptance that there can be shared stories around events in our nation’s history.

I recently spoke with an elderly woman who expressed her dismay that her childhood and education hadn’t featured the stories or history of Indigenous Australians.

In particular, she spoke about learning of massacres later in life and used the words to say that she had been lied to as a child.

I responded by saying that she wasn’t lied to, but she didn’t hear or have the opportunity to hear about our history through our eyes.

This is why we share and we need to share our history because it is important that the history of this nation is paralleled to the events that have occurred.

It is not about guilt. It is about acknowledging that there were events that occurred.

And we need to acknowledge that people will come to this debate from various angles, and perceptions of history – none of this is wrong, or should be dismissed or discouraged.

We cannot simply tell our truth through yelling.

It must be done through conversation.

For me, one of the most indelible moments that sparked a national conversation was that in December 1992 when the then Prime Minister Paul Keating delivered, what is now known as the Redfern Speech.

I had the fortune of being there.

The crowd was electrified and noisy, charged with energy and emotion.

I remember a bunch of balloons in the colours of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags bobbed on the roof above Keating’s head, and children dressed in red as they sat on the grass at the foot of the stage, trying to keep still but mostly failing.

Keating’s words that day have entered the history books, so has that speech.

The words most often quoted are his accounting of the deeds of non-Aboriginal Australians. He said:

We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders.”

But it was the next line that caused the strongest reaction from the audience. You couldn’t miss it.

We took the children from their mothers.

Those seven words drew a loud outburst from the crowd.

It was raw emotion.

Yet, it was both positive and negative – but most of all it was a significant moment of truth-telling, by none other than our nation’s Prime Minister of the day.

That shifted the pendulum – and from that shift, in 2008 we saw Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issue an apology on behalf of the Commonwealth Government to the Stolen Generations.

And any one of us here tonight could probably remember where we were, who we were with and the way in which we watched that speech being delivered. But the reactions that were portrayed on the screens, the tears running down the faces of those who were most affected, and the sense of relief became a glaringly obvious moment based on the fact: the truth of the past had been acknowledged.

Whilst this was regarded by some as merely a symbolic gesture, as of 2015 the fact is that there are an estimated 13,800 surviving Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over who had been removed from their families and communities and considered part of the Stolen Generation.

The healing that resulted from this act of truth-telling cannot be quantified.

And while this took time, it does demonstrate that truth-telling today can lead to significant moments of reconciliation in the future.

If we walk together and acknowledge our shared history we can achieve permanent positive change.

Truth-telling is not best served by a national commission or similar interrogation of truth.

We all should know detailed stories of the areas in which we lived. All Australians – sharing the one history.

I personally would rather see an organic and evolving truth-telling, in which we share our stories, our acknowledgement of the events of the past, but the way in which we as a nation of people are melding together for a better future.

There has to be local storytelling of the history of the past. And it must be local, otherwise we gloss over those very elements that are important in country, within region, and we will only tend to focus on national stories.

Every story to do with our country is as equally important as the national stories.

Around kitchen tables, over the BBQ and in the backyard, down at the local football and netball clubs and in pubs – this is where permanent change will come from – not from loud voices in Canberra and the media.

The 2018 Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition heard this first hand, and reported the following:

“A large number of stakeholders agreed that truth-telling is best implemented at local and regional levels.”

A key component of this local truth-telling is the fact that we must be comfortable having these conversations.

And comfortability is a two way street – for Indigenous Australians it means having the ability to speak our truth and have it heard; and for those seeking to understand, we must allow them to ask questions and contribute to the rigour of the conversation – whilst at all times maintaining respect for one another.

Until this happens, we won’t see the shift in the pendulum that we want to see and achieve.

Importantly, truth-telling is also an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Indigenous Australians – we must stand proud and celebrate the progress we’ve made.

Too often the pictures painted are that of setback and failure, which simply reinforces the negative elements of our history.

I want us to lead in a positive manner – I want all of us to lead in a positive manner. And, I want to celebrate our successes and champion those who achieve and do great things. In sport we do that exceptionally well – we acknowledge Ash Barty, we acknowledge Cathy Freeman, and many of our high-level achieving sports men and women.

But we also need to do it for the things that we achieve personally, those matters that we achieve as a community, but as equally important is the success of a child at each stage of schooling. And I’m not talking about achieving significant reform here, which is certainly important.

What I’m referring to is the kid who didn’t finish school getting their first job, and keeping it, and finding themselves contributing member to their community.

We need to celebrate every child who goes to school and receives an education, the foundation of a more meaningful and purposeful life.

These quiet achievements are as much about what defines Indigenous Australia in 2019 as the differences, we all too often allow those differences to divide us.

CONSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION OF INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS

Looking forward to our opportunity to shift the pendulum – let’s talk about Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.

Whilst the Constitution belongs to all Australians, it is important for the purpose of the conversations that I’ve spoken about tonight are so critical in achieving what we set out to do.

As I’ve said before – this is too important to rush, and it’s too important to get wrong.

On eight occasions, the Australian people have voted to change our founding document.

The Constitution is like the rule book for sport; it is the rule book of our nation.

On 36 other occasions they’ve been lost – and there 36 issues that have not come back to the Australian people to consider again in a referendum.

The most recent example of this being the 1999 Republic and Preamble Referendum – a campaign that saw a rift in our nation’s fabric – and result where not a single State carried a Yes vote – and often forgotten, is the fact that the vote on the Preamble was rejected by a greater margin than the question of the Republic.

This is not to say we can’t achieve Constitutional Recognition within the term of this Parliament.

But it is important that we learn from the 1999 Referendum, and reflect on how challenging it can be to translate good will into a positive outcome.

Looking back to 1967, and the Referendum put forward by the Coalition Holt Government, 90.77% of Australians voted to embrace our people as part of Australia.

Key to this was bi-partisan support, the simplicity of the question and a clear purpose for holding the Referendum.

I want to be very clear – the question we put to the Australian people will not result in what some desire, and that is a enshrined voice to the Parliament – on these two matters, whilst related, need to be treated separately.

This is about recognising Indigenous Australians on our Birth Certificate.

And I’ll talk about voice later on.

When I was elected in 2010, I was appointed to the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians – we held public conversations in 84 urban, regional and remote locations and in every capital city – as well as the hundreds of meetings and around 3,500 submissions were received.

From this, the Panel reported to government in 2012, and subsequently we had three more reports to government on the same matter.

Each of these reports have looked at a set of words to put to the Australian people.

The words are there in those documents.

Our challenge now is finding a way forward that will result in the majority of Australians, in the majority of states, overwhelmingly supporting Constitutional Recognition. We must be pragmatic.

The Constitution belongs to all Australians, from those in Slim’s home town of Kempsey to those in my childhood town of Corrigin, no one of us can lay claim to the Constitution.

It belongs to us collectively, and it belongs to those who came before us, and most importantly, it will belong to our children and our grandchildren.

I’m not thinking about what I can achieve for myself, or concerned about my legacy, I’m focused on realising recognition for my children, your children and generations to come.

Let me challenge the loudest voices in this debate – now is our opportunity to do this, and it will require understanding and tolerance of all views.

If we don’t seize the opportunity now, it may be lost for all of time – we must not allow this to happen – so I invite you to walk with all Australians on this journey.

It’s not about walking with me, or walking the path of any one individual – it’s about walking in the footsteps of those who’ve come before us, to create a new path for all Australians.

This is not an issue that can be viewed through the prism of political ideologies and all Australian politics have a way to go.

I ask my colleagues, from all sides, to remember what is your first duty as a Member of Parliament – and that is to listen to and represent the views of your community.

There is a lot of work to do on this journey – we haven’t had a referendum since 1999 – and we must educate a new generation on the importance of the Constitution and the significance of the change we are asking for.

This will require all of us to lay the foundation through education and conversation – that is the first step.

I had a young Australian ask me the other day when to expect their ballot to arrive in the mail to post back and wanted to be part of this change.

I had to explain to her the difference between the recent postal plebiscite to recognise same-sex Marriage and the difference between what a referendum is and how it works.

Having these conversations are as important as the conversations we have about why we need to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution and demonstrates the steps we need to consider to achieve this.

Let’s start these conversations, which may seem very basic to us, but are very important to realising success.

The pendulum will shift – but it’s up to us to determine which way.

VOICE

Let me now turn to voice and being heard.

Having your voice heard is going to look very different to how your neighbour sees their voice being heard.

In Australia today, there are almost 800,000 Indigenous voices – all of equal importance and relevance.

Therein lies the complexity of defining ‘a voice’.

The voice is multi-layered and multi-dimensional.

I see rooted in our elders, who are the basis for our knowledge, culture and lore, and rooted in our communities, and extending through the ways in which all levels of government, service providers and corporations engage and work with our people.

Too often I visit communities and I’m told that their voice isn’t being heard because needs are not being met on the ground and we certainly heard that at Garma for those who were in attendance.

And others, who say that they want their local member of parliament to hear their voice.

How we give voice to these Australians is through conversation and understanding.

Knowing what is happening, knowing what needs to happen – and work with leaders and individuals within our communities to develop the practical solutions that see a shift in the pendulum at the most local of levels.

Having these voices heard is not only a matter for the Commonwealth government – it’s a matter for State and Territories, local governments and service providers.

That’s why I’ve tasked the National Indigenous Australians Agency with changing the way they engage – to ensure that the priority is meeting the needs of local communities first.

I’m often asked about the commitment of the Morrison Government but let me assure you that the Morrison Government is committed to a co-design process so we ensure we have the best possible framework in place to hear those voices at the local, regional and national level.

More will be said in the months to come, and much like Constitutional Recognition, it’s too important to rush, or to get wrong.

This is about ensuring Indigenous voices are heard as loudly as any other Australian voice is.

Again – this is a journey for all Australians to walk, and through conversations we must respect, understand and address all perspectives on this matter.

Giving voice to Indigenous Australians, and realising Constitutional Recognition are the greatest opportunities in our lifetime, but they are not mutually-exclusive.

This must be remembered if we are to shift the pendulum.

SHIFTING THE PENDULUM

But what about shifting the pendulum tomorrow?

There are things that we can be doing, as individuals, as parts of organisations and as members of communities to positively shift the pendulum.

Don’t think that any one action you can take won’t lead to meaningful change – the individual actions of those here tonight, let alone all those across this nation, has the potential to improve lives and outcomes for our people.

We can all shift the pendulum.

And that’s what I’m focused on every single day.

I will be judged as equally on my ability and this government’s ability to create jobs, improve access to healthcare, have young people attend school and succeed, and reduce suicide rates as I will be on delivering Constitutional Recognition.

And this is what drives me.

Every Indigenous Australian who finds a job, every young person that gets to school in the morning, every prevented suicide and instances of Otitis Media for example being treated is what I will celebrate.

And that’s something you should celebrate too. It’s something you can have a direct impact upon.

How do you play a role in shifting the pendulum? Consider that proposition tonight and leave here motivated to shift the pendulum for one person, one family, one community or more.

Many of you will be doing that already, so the question becomes, how can we grow and share that? How can we celebrate that?

We must look at what we do and the good we have the potential for – and to then share these successes as loudly and widely as possible.

By celebrating success, we’re not blinding ourselves to the challenges at hand, or dismissing the levels of disadvantage within Australian Indigenous communities.

We know that people are dying earlier.

We know that our people are committing suicide.

We know that children are being born into a lifetime of poverty.

And, that’s on us as well.

I don’t discount or diminish this in any way.

We owe it to our children, and to future generations to come to create an environment and culture of opportunity and of positivity so that when an Indigenous Australian children is born, they see a world where their dreams can be realised, and where each day is filled with hope and optimism.

Where the face they see in the mirror, doesn’t limit their aspirations.

Where the face they see in the mirror is the face they see reading the 5 o’clock news, the face they see exploring space or one day the face they see leading our nation.

To achieve this future, we must change how we look at ourselves – and we must have others view Indigenous Australians through our successes and not our failings.

Just as disadvantage should not be viewed through colour – success should not be limited by colour.

I asked what we can do tomorrow to shift the pendulum – well, start by celebrating success, by sharing success and by ensuring that one person’s success today is the hope for someone else’s success tomorrow.

But to emphasise the importance of acting and listening at a local level, I want to take us back to the 1967 referendum.

As the referendum votes were being tallied and the nation’s ‘Yes’ vote was starting to emerge, Vincent Lingiari, a Gurindji man and his stockmen were several months into their famous Wave Hill walk-off and strike.

The strike although initially an employee rights action had soon become a national issue as the relationship between Indigenous Australians and the wider community and our national idioms were once again being challenged.

The strike lasted 8 years and that eventually led to the Native Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

This shifted the pendulum, legislating the right for Indigenous people of the Northern Territory to negotiate over any developments on their lands.

LINGIARI

Lingiari’s actions at a local level, culminated in the Prime Minister Gough Whitlam’s pouring the red dirt of our land through the hands of Vincent.

While this act was symbolic, it put in train a series of events that defines the land rights movement to this day.

The courage shown by Lingiari was not only for him, but for future generations, as recognised by what Whitlam said. And I won’t repeat what Sue shared with us earlier but it was a sign of possession of our lands for our children forever.

I am truly humbled to be here in front of you, delivering the 19th annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture – and I thank Charles Darwin University for the opportunity to contribute to this series of lectures, which has helped in its own way, be a form of truth-telling and spark the conversations that we’ve needed since 1996.

To be in the company of such distinguished voices truly is an honour.

And, I don’t want tonight to be about me, but if I could take one moment to say that the significance of being appointed the first Indigenous Minister for Indigenous Australians is not lost on me.

And I thanks the Gurindji people for their faith and for their commitment and I will certainly walk with you to deliver on the things that are important to our people but I will walk with our people across this nation and other Australians.

For young Indigenous Australians out there, across this great nation, dreaming of a career in politics, I hope that my journey can give you hope.

Many of you here know my journey, but just let me share it again for that young person who’s hearing from me for the first time tonight.

I was born in 1952 and raised in Roelands Mission near Bunbury in Western Australia, and the oldest of 10 kids.

My father was a railway ganger. My mother was a member of the Stolen Generations.

And, we lived in a tiny place called Nannine, just west of Meekatharra.

My schooling at first was by correspondence – working a radio with a foot pedal, like an old sewing machine, for two hours at a time.

Soon afterwards, my parents moved to Corrigin.

Education was my turning point, and by going to school, my drive for knowledge and desire to learn is something that I retain and value today.

I have a few other fragments of memory from when I was a skinny-ankled kid running around Corrigin.

There was the time that some people in our town started circulating a petition to get the Aboriginal family that had just moved in kicked out.

The petition failed. The townspeople wanted us to stay and have a fair go.

I also remember a time when I was about ten years old and somebody said to me: you might end up being a politician one day.

And I thought “not in this country will I ever have that opportunity”.

As I grew into a teenager in the mid-60s, I became enterprising.

I worked on farms, I’d catch rabbits, sell the meat to the butcher (certainly not the ones I bruised; I’d cook those) and I’d sell the skins as well.

I used to work on farms too. I’d earn money by chopping wood, doing the fencing, driving tractors during harvesting.

But, it gave me money for myself. I’d keep half my earnings and buy a few things and put some away in the bank. The other half I’d give to mother to help put food on the table for all of us.

This is not a sob story.

To me it sort of felt like freedom.

It gave me a sense of personal responsibility and an attitude of enterprising thinking.

Those experiences living in a country town probably shaped me.

While I was busy skinning rabbits and making a buck, Australia was growing and changing.

I hope collectively we can fulfil the expectation I feel each day, to continue to grow and shape a better future for all Indigenous Australians, and continue the healing of our nation.

I know I don’t walk alone – but I also acknowledge there are many expectations placed on me. And I feel the weight of expectation.

But, I want to take this weight – and turn it into an optimism for what we can achieve – together when we swing the pendulum.

CONCLUSION

And, I’ll repeat again – everything I have spoken about tonight, from truth-telling to Constitutional Recognition is too important to rush, and too important to get wrong.

I need everyone in this room, and all of those out there who want us to succeed to ask yourselves – what can I do to help us realise our goals?

What are you going to do to shift that pendulum?

What are you going to do tomorrow, in three months’ time and in a year’s time? – good will, while important, will not allow us to complete this journey and positively shift the pendulum.

How can we elevate our successes?

How can we give voice to those who feel voiceless?

And, how can we make sure their voices are heard as loudly as those who come from Canberra and in the media?

I want you to remember these words from Vincent Lingiari:

“Let us live happily together as mates, let us not make it hard for each other… We want to live in a better way together, Aboriginals and white men, let us not fight over anything, let us be mates.”

Let this be the basis for conversations we have. And, remember these important words of Vincent Lingiari.

Take stock every so often and ask yourself – are your actions working for or against shifting the pendulum – on any of the measures we’ve discussed tonight, or on any other significant measures through which we define success and progress.

Let’s remember the importance of learning, listening and understanding when we look back – and through this, we will be able to look forward.

Look forward and work towards realising

  • Local truth-telling;
  • Constitution Recognition of Indigenous Australians;
  • Giving voice to our local communities; and
  • Addressing disadvantage in Indigenous Australia.

Together we can shift the pendulum, help every child out there realise their dreams, and leave a more unified, understanding and tolerant Australia for the generations to come.

Success for me, will be to look back, after all is said and done, and be able to say, as Slim once sang:

We’ve done us proud.

To come this far,

Down through the years,

To where we are,

Side by side,

Hand in hand,

We’ve lived and died for this great land,

We’ve done us proud.

Let us walk together.

Let us shift the pendulum together.

I thank you for the privilege of being here with you this evening.

Thank you.

[ENDS]

AUTHORISED BY KEN WYATT, LIBERAL PARTY, CANBERRA.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and the #Makarrata : Two essential reports to understand #NAIDOC2019 #VoiceTreatyTruth , a factual account of the #UluruStatement dialogues and the process

“In Aboriginal culture, healing after a conflict begins with a process of truth-telling.

The Yolngu Matha term for this is Makarrata — a peacemaking process. In Aboriginal ways of being, recognition of wrongs of the past sparks greater understanding on both sides of the conflict.

 From this, we can develop a resolution, and a coming together of the parties involved in peace.

As we celebrate NAIDOC week this year, the Morrison government has a unique opportunity to make history by dealing with our troubled history.

The time is ripe to address Australia’s problematic past between settler colonials and the Aboriginal peoples through the process of Makarrata.

When we speak of Makarrata, what we’re talking about is a process that ultimately allows the restitution of wellbeing and happiness.

The kind of healing that addresses the deep wounds created by unresolved colonial history.

And we begin by acknowledging that this isn’t just an ‘Aboriginal problem’ but a shared scar that’s worn by the nation as a whole.”

Victoria Grieve-Williams is a Warraimaay historian and Adjunct Professor, Indigenous Research, RMIT University from NITV Makarrata: The Aboriginal healing process we should all know about : Full report below part 3

Part 1 : Download below the final report from the Referendum Council 

“ A Declaration of Recognition should be developed, containing inspiring and unifying words articulating Australia’s shared history, heritage and aspirations.

The Declaration should bring together the three parts of our Australian story: our ancient First Peoples’ heritage and culture, our British institutions, and our multicultural unity.

It should be legislated by all Australian Parliaments, on the same day, either in the lead up to or on the same day as the referendum establishing the First Peoples’ Voice to Parliament, as an expression of national unity and reconciliation.

In addition, the Council reports that there are two matters of great importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, that can be addressed outside the Constitution.

The Uluru Statement called for the establishment of a Makarrata Commission with the function of supervising agreement-making and facilitating a process of local and regional truth telling.

The Council recognises that this is a legislative initiative for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to pursue with government. “

Download the 183 page report HERE

Referendum_Council_Final_Report

Or read online

Part 2

ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART

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.

Part 3 Marching for Makarrata: The Aboriginal healing process we should all know about

The progress so far

Originally published Here

The recent appointment of Ken Wyatt as our first Minister for Indigenous Affairs has been a step towards the right direction. His mother is a member of the Stolen Generation so he knows firsthand the impact of history. Wyatt is also a steady and productive force who commands respect across many groups. He has a knowledge of customary law and the power it can wield to restore wellbeing. He is also proactive about meeting with Aboriginal cultural leaders.

Wyatt’s leadership could show that peacemaking practices can be powerful. The call for peacemaking is not new. For decades, there has been an official call for a Makarrata, most recently in the Uluru Statement From The Heart.

“Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle,” says the 2017 Uluru statement, “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.”

Indeed, it has been clear to the First People that this customary Aboriginal way of ensuring the differences and wrongs of the past are addressed appropriately has been way overdue.

The bias of ‘history’

History as we know it is a concept developed out of the West or the Global North. It’s often told through the lens of a colonial past and has evolved as a means to record the deeds of great white men. In this sense, western history serves a function to legitimise the building of nation states.

In this limited, inherently biased approach, incidences of murder, rape and other genocidal acts were often covered up or kept secret. They are minimised by the fact that the current nation-state was born of them. In some cases, these acts of cruelty and genocide are erroneously seen as ‘necessary’ and best forgotten.

This is not to say that there are only such biased accounts of history in Australia. The institution of history in Australia is marked by the large number of historians who have championed the Aboriginal case for a just and proper settlement over recent decades. They have worked on revising earlier inaccuracies, using documents and oral testimony to provide alternate histories that highlight the impact of colonial racist violence and the impacts of racial segregation.

But it can be argued that they are still working within the parameters of western history-making until they can incorporate Aboriginal ways of dealing with history. And we cannot hope for foundational changes to our relationship to the settler colonial state until we properly integrate Aboriginal theory, ethics, values and methodologies into this. This is what “Aboriginal history” is truly about.

The need for Aboriginal history

Aboriginal philosophy incorporates a very different theory and approach to history. For Aboriginal people, any difficult history is not forgotten until it is dealt with — and then it is truly left behind.

History is with us, it impacts on our lives now, until it is addressed. And we will not belong to the nation state until our history is incorporated into the narrative of the nation and resolved.

Culturally, Aboriginal people have engaged in history in a functional way, in that it has not been used as a celebratory or foundational narrative. Stories are retained to ensure historical wrongs are addressed and when they are, they are no longer told. People with authority and knowledge lead the resolution of disputes, the wrongs are righted, including through ceremony, and then everyone can move on. The business of the past is then declared to be finished.

Aboriginal approaches to time and history are instructive. In this way, the methodology of the Makarrata is a way to address the injuries of the past – in order for all parties to move on.

Makarrata is about self-determination

The process of Makarrata needs to be led by Aboriginal cultural leadership across the nation, by those who understand the true spirit of this process that can go by many other names. It is important that the whole difficult history be revealed, that every Aboriginal person has the chance to speak to a Makarrata commissioner, whether in public or in private, be heard and with permission be recorded for later reference.

Aboriginal commissioners need to oversee the ways in which this information is managed. The end product should allow those events in which Aboriginal people were truly victims to be balanced by the development of other stories, of friendships, co-operation and understanding into the future. Self-determination is key.

Makarrata success stories

An example of this process is demonstrated in the documentary  Dhakiyarr vs. The King whereby the Yolngu descendants of Dhakiyarr who disappeared, presumed dead, (on his way home from Darwin) retold and reinvestigated the events leading up to his death. They included the family of the policemen who he had killed, the Court House in Darwin where he had been denied justice. They told the story in full, incorporating the descendants of the people involved and performed ceremony at specific important locations, to acknowledge the true history and put it to rest.

The documentary has since been shown around the world to critical acclaim. It continues to be a powerful example of the way Aboriginal people can deal with the wrongs of history and allow everyone to move on with increased wellbeing.

Another example is the annual pilgrimage to the site of the Myall Creek Massacre in New England NSW, where Aboriginal and settler colonial Australians come together to acknowledge a very difficult history and put it to rest. This has proven to be a profound experience of resolving the injuries of the past for all who have made the journey.

As an Aboriginal historian, the prospect of using Makarrata to right historical wrongs is exciting  — a once-in-the-lifetime-of-a-nation-opportunity that would potentially lead to greater wellbeing, hope, and most importantly –- true healing.

Victoria Grieve-Williams is a Warraimaay historian and Adjunct Professor, Indigenous Research, RMIT University

National NAIDOC Week runs 7 – 14 July 2019. For information head to the official site. Join the conversation #NAIDOC2019 & #VoiceTreatyTruth 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #NRW2019 and the Referendum News :  Communiqué from Cairns and Yarrabah workshop on 24-26 May 2019 regarding the #UluruStatement from the Heart

“ 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.”

Uluru Statement from the Heart, 26 May 2017 : See full Statement part 2 below

 ” On the second anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, First Nations representatives from across the country met in Cairns and gathered at the Tree of Knowledge in Yarrabah, to renew the invitation forged at Uluru.

We pay tribute to the men and women whose heroic efforts led to the successful 1967 Referendum 52 years ago. We met with two of those heroes – Ms Ruth Hennings, aged 85, and Mr Alf Neal, aged 94 – both of whom were awarded the Order of Australia in 2019 for their services to our people.

We thank the growing movement of Australians from all walks of life who have pledged their support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart. This is a movement that is growing and will continue to grow.

Australia has an opportunity to honour and build upon the legacy of 1967. The Australian people united then and we can do it again.

We welcome the Australian Government’s commitment of $7.3 million for the design of the Voice proposed at Uluru, and $160 million for a referendum to achieve it. We seek to meet with the Prime Minister as soon as possible about how best to proceed. The way forward must be informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout Australia.

We invite all Australians to walk with us on this journey, thoughtfully and with purpose, and to support our voice being heard.”

This communique is issued on behalf of participants at an Uluru Dialogue workshop convened in Cairns and Yarrabah on 24-26 May 2019 by the Indigenous Law Centre UNSW and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council

Download copy of this Communique in full

FNQ Communique Uluru Statement, May 2019

Alfie Neal and Ruth Wallace Hennings – brave the tropical rain at Yarrabah where they sat and planned the vote for Australia’s indigenous population. Picture: Brian Cassey

” More than 50 years ago, Ruth Hennings sat with Alfred Neal day after day under the “Tree of Knowledge” in Yarrabah, near Cairns, plotting the protest movement across Queensland’s conservative north that helped bring the beginnings of equality for ­Aboriginal Australians.

It was from there that the mission-raised pair led the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League, in its struggle to win support for the successful 1967 referendum, enabling laws for indigenous people and including them in the census.

The only survivors of the league, Ms Hennings, 85, and Mr Neal, 94, reunited yesterday on the beach near where the tree stood after learning they — had been awarded Order of Australia Medals for services to the indigenous community.”

From NACCHO Post 26 January 2019

Megan Davis, Pat Anderson and Noel Pearson holding the Uluru Statement

” We were right to gift the Uluru Statement from the Heart two years ago to the people of Australia, rather than to the politicians or the government.

Its sentiments and its passion and its sincerity have appealed to a wide cross-section of society.

Just as with the long campaign that led to the successful 1967 vote dealing with First Nations in the constitution, people are standing up ready to join us on this journey.

Corporate support is growing. The big law firms, the finance sector, theAustralian Medical Association and a whole host more are already on board. Support is growing from ordinary Australians.

This support gives me hope that there’s a real chance for structural change that gives us a say in the business of the Parliament for policies that affect us. “

Patricia Anderson was co-chair of the Referendum Council and a former NACCHO Chair : She is an Alyawarr woman. See Part 3 Below

” The idea is that if you have direct Indigenous input into law and policy making, the quality of advice will be vastly better than contemporary decision making which is primarily done by non-Indigenous people making decisions about communities they have never visited and people they do not know.

This is why so many communities are not flourishing. This is why so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are struggling. The decisions made about their lives are crafted by people in Canberra or other big cities. Apples and Oranges.

The reform is constitutional, meaning it requires a referendum so that the proposal can be put to the Australian people to approve. This is why the Uluru Statement was issued to the Australian people. Because it is only we exclusively, as Australians united, who can make an alteration to the text.”

 Professor Megan Davis is a constitutional lawyer and Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous UNSW. She is an Aboriginal woman from the Cobble Cobble clan from south-west Queensland. See Part 4 below for full text

“This is a historic agreement that he reached with us [on ‘closing the gap’ between indigenous and non-indigenous well-being] and because of his superb leadership on it we are going to work closely with him. Constitutional recognition was a complementary parallel process and “it’s important both get done.”

Pat Turner NACCHO CEO and co-chair of a new joint council formed between Indigenous peak bodies and state and federal governments to re-design ‘Closing the Gap’ targets, said she had been impressed with the Prime Minister so far.

FROM SMH / The AGE May27 Deborah Snow

On Sunday morning, many travelled to the historic Tree of Knowledge at Yarrabah, outside Cairns, a site closely associated with the launching of the successful 1967 referendum which gave Indigenous Australians the right to be counted in the census and allowed federal laws to be made for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Monday marked the 52nd anniversary of that referendum – one of only 8 to be carried out of 44 referendum proposals ever put to the country. ( 90 % said YES )

1967

2019

Senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders gathering in far north Queensland this weekend called for a meeting with Mr Morrison “as soon as possible” to try to make progress on constitutional recognition:

They were marking the second anniversary of the solemnly-worded Uluru Statement from the Heart, which was adopted in May 2017 at an unprecedented summit of Indigenous leaders from around the country.

The communique of around 40 Indigenous leaders at the weekend welcomed the Liberal party’s promise made during the election campaign of $7.3 million to develop a proposal to take to a referendum, and the budget allocation of $160 million to bring that referendum about.

But it said the way forward “must be informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people throughout Australia”, saying the movement for recognition was “growing, and will continue to grow”.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has “committed to getting an outcome” on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, paving the way for a national discussion on the best way to achieve it.

But he has given no timeframe on how long the process might take.

It was in the shadow of this magnificent natural wonder that the Uluru Statement was born.

It was in the shadow of this magnificent natural wonder that the Uluru Statement was born.

The freshly elected Mr Morrison told the Herald that “we need to work together across the aisle and across our communities to get an outcome that all Australians can get behind and we’ll take as long as is needed to achieve that.”

Labor had committed to a referendum in the current parliamentary term had it been elected.

Mr Morrison said “my priorities for Indigenous Australians are to ensure Indigenous kids are in school and getting an education, that young Indigenous Australians are not taking their own lives and that there are real jobs for Indigenous Australians so they can plan for their future with confidence like any other Australian.”

His comments coincide with his appointment of Western Australian MP Ken Wyatt as the country’s first Indigenous cabinet minister, with the title of Minister for Indigenous Australians.

Mr Morrison’s predecessor Malcolm Turnbull dismissed the idea of the Voice saying it would amount to a third chamber of parliament.

A Liberal party policy document released in the last days of the campaign said more work was needed on “what model we take to a referendum and what a Voice to parliament would be.” It talked broadly of “comprehensive co-design of models to improve local and regional decision making and options for constitutional recognition.”

Indigenous leaders are rapidly re-calibrating expectations after the shock election victory of the coalition.

A bipartisan parliamentary committee last December recommended that the Voice “should become a reality”, after a co-design process between government and First Nations peoples.

A range of industry and other organisations have also come out in support of the Uluru statement, including the Law Council of Australia, the AMA, the business council, ACOSS, major law firms, big miners BHP and Rio Tinto and – as of last week – 21 leaders of investment banks, super funds and accounting firms.

Some Indigenous leaders told the Herald on Sunday that Mr Morrison’s re-election might not slow the momentum for constitutional recognition.

Lawyer and human rights advocate Teela Reid, a Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, told the Herald that the election result “does not really change much for blackfellas. We have always had this kind of experience with the left and the right. History has proven that change is not easy.”

She said if anything, a re-election of a coalition government “motivates us more”. But she said the Morrison government should get a referendum done “as soon as possible. Our old people don’t have time, they deserve the question to be resolved in their lifetimes”.

Many of those behind the Uluru statement want a referendum to embed the principle of a Voice first, with detailed design taking place after a successful vote. But some indigenous leaders, such as Tom Calma, co-chair of Reconciliation Australia, worry that a too-vague proposal will not command majority support.

A government source told the Herald, “The Prime Minister is intensely pragmatic. He will get a result on this. He just wants the right one.” A referendum without an agreed model risked getting “very Brexity” the source said, adding that a fixed timeframe could put pressure on a fragile process.

Labor’s putative leader-elect Anthony Albanese told the Herald that “if there is one area where we can put aside partisanship and work together in the national interest, it must be to advance the agenda of the Uluru statement.”

Mr Morrison said recognition must be achieved alongside “practical goals” which made Indigenous Australians “safe in their communities” and enjoying the same access to services as any other Australian.

Part 2

ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART

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 than60,000 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.

Part 3 : We are again asking the Australian people to walk with us ( continued )

A First Nations Voice enshrined in the constitution. That’s what the Uluru Statement calls for.

The days are long gone of that old colonial-type thinking, that somebody else, somewhere else, knows what’s best for us.

It’s important that we can talk directly to Parliament about issues that affect us. The Voice to Parliament is a modest and conservative ask but it would truly be a nation-building development, one that is long overdue.

First Nations people have always been aware that we stand on the shoulders of those who went before us.

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So I was privileged to catch up in Cairns this past weekend with two people who were part of the campaign in the 1967 referendum, Auntie Ruth Hennings, who’s 85, and Uncle Alf Neal, who’s 94.

Auntie Ruth came to a meeting where some of us were planning next steps in our journey. She was tearful when she saw the actual Uluru Statement painting hanging on the wall to inspire us. She’d never seen it before.

It really was a powerful moment.

And then we visited Yarrabah, an hour’s drive from Cairns, because that’s the old mission where Auntie Ruth and Uncle Alf began planning with others how they were going to organise the campaign that became the 1967 referendum.

They were both awarded the Order of Australia this year for their efforts.

We are again asking the Australian people to walk with us, to accept our gift of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and change the constitution so that it makes our nation complete.

Patricia Anderson was co-chair of the Referendum Council. She is an Alyawarr woman.

Part 4 Professor Megan Davis is a constitutional lawyer and Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous UNSW. She is an Aboriginal woman from the Cobble Cobble clan from south-west Queensland.

The process that led to the Uluru Statement From the Heart and the proposal to amend the Australian constitution to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament was a watershed moment in Australian history.

For the first time in our living memory, a representative group of Australia’s First Nations people met in the heart of Australia at Uluru on May 26, 2017, and agreed to endorse a sequence of reforms aimed at doing what bureaucracy and politicians have been unable to do, empower Indigenous communities to take control of their future.

The reforms known as Voice, Treaty, Truth are deliberately sequenced. A carefully crafted response to the problems that plague our communities and lead to large numbers of child removals and youth detention.

The first reform in the sequence of reforms is a First Nations Voice to the Parliament and that is the focus of our advocacy energies. The Voice to Parliament is a common feature in many liberal democracies around the world. It is a very simple proposition: that Indigenous peoples should have a say in the laws and policies that impact upon their lives and communities.

The idea is that if you have direct Indigenous input into law and policy making, the quality of advice will be vastly better than contemporary decision making which is primarily done by non-Indigenous people making decisions about communities they have never visited and people they do not know.

This is why so many communities are not flourishing. This is why so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are struggling. The decisions made about their lives are crafted by people in Canberra or other big cities. Apples and Oranges.

The reform is constitutional, meaning it requires a referendum so that the proposal can be put to the Australian people to approve. This is why the Uluru Statement was issued to the Australian people. Because it is only we exclusively, as Australians united, who can make an alteration to the text.

This was done in 1967 to provide the Commonwealth with the power to make laws for Indigenous peoples. The highest “Yes” vote in Australian history was recorded in this referendum. On this occasion we are returning to the Australian people to ask them to empower us to make decisions about our own lives.

The amendment to the constitution is as simple as the proposal. We are asking Australians to approve a new provision that enables the federal Parliament to create a new representative body that will be known as the Voice to Parliament. It is an enabling provision similar to how the High Court of Australia was set up, the Australian population voted on a provision that proposed a High Court be created but the legislation was passed three years later.

Post-Uluru there has been two years of work conducted on what the Voice might look like. The work ahead now is to agree to the amount of detail that is required for Australians to feel fully informed when voting at the ballot box. The full blown Voice design can be legislated for after a successful referendum. The deferral of this detail is a common constitutional and political strategy around the world.

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Changing the constitution is no mean feat in Australia. There are two key reasons that Indigenous people, via the dialogues that led up to the May 26 meeting, are seeking constitutional reform. First, the insecurity of Indigenous people’s status in the machinery of government when it comes to laws and policies and institutions. It is a area of public policy that is constantly and continually interrupted and disrupted from one political party to the next, from one three year term to the next, and constantly the subject of experimentation by bureaucracy and governments as new policy trends and buzz words develop and tested on Indigenous communities.

This state of disruption means that people’s lives and communities and the programs and policies that impact upon them are constantly chopping and changing. People on the ground have little control over the longevity of programs and policies. The Voice to Parliament reform is intended to bring security and certainty to people’s lives that we believe will manifest in better outcomes for communities. Being constitutionally enshrined, the Voice will be sustainable and durable well beyond political timetables. It means that Indigenous empowerment and active participation in the democratic life of the state is not dependent on which political party is in power.

The second reason for constitutional entrenchment is that it is intended to compel government to listen. At the moment, the government and policy makers are not compelled to listen or hear what First Nations have to say about the laws and policies that impact upon them. Entrenchment will mean listening to mob is compulsory and allowing Indigenous input into policy will be mandated. This will mean that laws and policies are more likely to be targeted and tailored to community problems and needs and it will mean laws and policies are less likely to fail.

Every working group in the dialogues endorsed the “Voice to Parliament” as a reform priority. The dialogues understood that the Voice to Parliament would operate as a “front end” political limit on

the Parliament’s powers to pass laws that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In particular, the Voice would be empowered to give input into laws contemplated by the Parliament under two sections of the Constitution, the race power and the territories power.

These are the two powers, s51(xxvi) and s122, that impact upon Indigenous peoples the most. This input will be provided in an efficient and timely manner. The dialogues discussed in a nuanced way parliamentary sovereignty and other constitutional limitations of the Voice and all appreciated that this model would be no guarantee that these powers would not be used against them in the future in a negative way by Parliament but that it would create a limit through political empowerment, which would achieve better designed policies in the future.

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The reform is urgent. The deliberative dialogue process that led to the historic consensus at Uluru and the call for a Voice to Parliament is being lauded around the world as a best practice process for eliciting Indigenous views. The United Nations Special Rapporteur told the UN Human Rights Council this in 2017 and 2018. This is an Australian innovation. The Uluru statement is an offer of friendship and peace. Many of our old people are dying and they want some peace for their country.

Despite all of Australia’s history, the Uluru dialogue participants acknowledged that while the law can oppress, the law can also redeem. And the Voice to Parliament is about fairness and using the highest Australian law to empower our people so they can take their rightful place in the nation.

We issued Uluru to the Australian people and not to the politicians. It is an offer to the Australian people and the consideration, a constitutional Voice, is a small price for the benefit that it will unlock for all Australians.

Professor Megan Davis is a constitutional lawyer and Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous UNSW. She is an Aboriginal woman from the Cobble Cobble clan from south-west Queensland.

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health @RecAustralia and #Racism : New Australian #ReconciliationBarometer Report shows some increased support but 33% of our mob have still experienced at least one form of verbal racial abuse in the last 6 months

Significantly, almost all Australians (95%) believe that ‘it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them’ and 80% believe it is important to ‘undertake formal truth telling processes’, with 86% believing it is important to learn about past issues.

But disturbingly the barometer found that 33% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced at least one form of verbal racial abuse in the last 6 months.”

Reconciliation CEO, Karen Mundine launching today The 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer, a national research study conducted every two years to measure and compare attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation:

Download the full Report HERE

Reconcilation Aust 158 pages Barometer -full-report-2018

Download the brochure HERE

ra_2019-barometer-brochure_web.single.page_

Download the 2018 Workplace RAP Barometer 

WorkPlace RAP Barometer -2018_-final-report

Read over 110 Aboriginal Health and Racism articles published by NACCHO in the last 7 years 

Australians’ support for reconciliation and for a greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander say in their own affairs continues to strengthen according to the latest national survey conducted by Reconciliation Australia.

The 2018 Australian Reconciliation Barometer, a national research study conducted every two years to measure and compare attitudes and perceptions towards reconciliation, has found that an overwhelming number of Australians (90%) believe in the central tenet of reconciliation – that the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important.

The 2018 Barometer surveyed a national sample of 497 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 1995 Australians in the general community across all states and territories.

Reconciliation CEO, Karen Mundine, said that this latest Barometer once again showed a steady strengthening of the indicators for reconciliation and improved relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.

“Among these indicators is the encouraging fact that 90% of Australians believe in the central tenet of our reconciliation efforts, that the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important, and that 79% agree that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are important to Australia’s national identity,” said Ms Mundine.

“Significantly, almost all Australians (95%) believe that ‘it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have a say in matters that affect them’ and 80% believe it is important to ‘undertake formal truth telling processes’, with 86% believing it is important to learn about past issues.

“More Australians than ever before feel a sense of pride for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; this has risen to 62% from 50% in 2008 when the first barometer was conducted,” she said.

Conducted by Reconciliation Australia the Australian Reconciliation Barometer is the only survey undertaken in Australia which measures the progress of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.

Ms Mundine said she was heartened by the 2018 results which indicated that the work of Reconciliation Australia and other organisations which promoted reconciliation, the richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and the need to truthfully present Australia’s history, was having a positive impact.

“In welcoming these latest results, I must acknowledge the hard work undertaken by so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people to share the incredible beauty and complexity of our cultures across this continent.”

Ms Mundine said that while it was encouraging to see support for reconciliation grow again in the past two years, “there was still plenty of room for improvement”.

“Disturbingly the barometer found that 33% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have experienced at least one form of verbal racial abuse in the last 6 months.”

Ms Mundine said that there were a number of actions that should be taken to further improve the situation for Australia’s First Nations and take the next steps towards a reconciled nation.

These include:

  • Developing a deeper reconciliation process through truth, justice and healing, including supporting a process of truth telling, the establishment of a national healing centre, formal hearings to capture stories and bear witness, reform to the school curriculum, and exploration of archives and other records to map massacre sites and understand the magnitude of the many past wrongs;
  • Support for addressing unresolved issues of national reconciliation including through legislation setting out the timeframe and process for advancing the issues proposed in the Uluru Statement from the Heart;
  • Supporting the national representative body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples – and these efforts must be underpinned by the principles of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly the right to self-determination;
  • Recommitting to the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) Closing the Gap framework that involves renewing and increasing investments and national, state/territory and regional agreements to meet expanded Closing the Gap targets that are co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
  • Investing in, and supporting, anti-racism campaigns and resources including maintaining strong legislative protections against racial discrimination and taking leadership to promote a zero-tolerance approach to racism and discrimination.

Read the Summary Report

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #Referendum #Ulurustatement : Indigenous campaigners awarded Australia Day honours for role in 1967 referendum Ruth Hennings, Diana Travis, Alfred Neal and Dulcie Flower honoured for service to their communities

 ” Ruth Henning, Diana Travis, and Alfred Neal were awarded the medal of the order of Australia (OAM) on Saturday for their service to their communities and work on the 1967 referendum.

Aunty Dulcie Flower, who was granted the OAM in 1992, was made a member of the order of Australia (AM) for her work on the referendum, her role in the establishment of the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, and her work as a nurse.

From the Guardian 26 January 2019

Alfie Neal and Ruth Wallace Hennings – brave the tropical rain at Yarrabah where they sat and planned the vote for Australia’s indigenous population. Picture: Brian Cassey

 ” More than 50 years ago, Ruth Hennings sat with Alfred Neal day after day under the “Tree of Knowledge” in Yarrabah, near Cairns, plotting the protest movement across Queensland’s conservative north that helped bring the beginnings of equality for ­Aboriginal Australians.

It was from there that the mission-raised pair led the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League, in its struggle to win support for the successful 1967 referendum, enabling laws for indigenous people and including them in the census.

The only survivors of the league, Ms Hennings, 85, and Mr Neal, 94, reunited yesterday on the beach near where the tree stood after learning they — had been awarded Order of Australia Medals for services to the indigenous community.”

From the Australian 26 January 2019

Campaigners mark the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum on 24 May 2017, including Alfred Neal, left, and Dulcie Flower, second right, who have both been recognised in the 2019 Australia Day honours. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

On the day of the 1967 referendum, Ruth Hennings was handing out “vote yes” flyers at a local school in Cairns.

It was the first sign she had that the campaign to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were included in the census, and to give the federal government power to make laws specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, had won the support of a majority of Australian citizens.

“Nearly everyone who was there, they all said good luck and hoped everything would turn out good,” Hennings said. “So they gave me a good feeling of ‘it will change’.”

When the votes were counted, that feeling was confirmed: 91% of Australians voted yes.

The next step, Hennings said, was a plan to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were recognised in the constitution as the First Peoples of Australia.

See Ruths story Brisbane Times

Fifty-two years later that still has not happened and the Uluru Statement, which sets out a path forward, was rejected by the federal government.

Hennings is 85 now, a celebrated elder. On Saturday she was one of four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people honoured for their role in the 1967 referendum, and for a lifetime of other community work.

She was a founding member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advancement League in Cairns, which began in 1958, and attended meetings while working as a cleaner around the town for 15 shillings a day.

She told Guardian Australia constitutional recognition was still badly needed.

“We really need to get a body together where we can talk in one voice,” she said. “All of these things have been happening, money is being thrown around, and there’s no result … the main thing is getting that constitution right and making sure that we are all one people, we are all one Australia.”

Travis was just 19 when her grandfather Sir Douglas Nicholls, one of the most revered figures in Victoria, drove her to Canberra to take part in the referendum alongside her heroes: Charlie Perkins, Chicka Dixon, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, and Faith Bandler.

“They were all wonderful leaders, wonderful workers, focused and aware, so I was just in my joy being there, mingling and being amongst them all in Canberra,” she said.

Travis is now involved in native title work as a Dja Dja Wurrung claimant and a member of the Dhuudora native title group, and is an active participant in the Victorian treaty process.

“It may be a different time now but I still believe that there’s good people out there,” Travis said. “Some of them may not understand, but I just say: listen please, listen to us, talk to us. We’re not targeting you, it’s all about the government.”

She said she was in “two or three minds” about accepting the Australia Day honour, both because she does not support the celebration of Australia Day on 26 January – she will spend the morning in protest in Melbourne, as she does every year – and because she was not sure she had done enough to earn it.

Both Hennings and Travis said the singular focus and united purpose behind the 1967 referendum campaign was absent from modern reform debates.

“At that time we all had that one goal,” Henning said. “We all knew what we wanted, we were focused and willing and happy and we had FCAATSI (Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders) … But today there’s nothing.”

 

NACCHO Aboriginal Health #selfdetermination #International day of the #WorldsIndigenousPeople 9 August : #WeAreIndigenous and we Walk for Makarrata –  One Message, One Goal, Many Voices #ulurustatement

On this annual observance, let us commit to fully realizing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the rights to self-determination and to traditional lands, territories and resources.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres See Part 2 below 

Our desire for Makarrata is about self-determination, genuine partnership and moving beyond survival.  It’s about putting our future into our own hands,

Makarrata was needed because the Apology and successive reforms from both sides of politics have not on their own delivered healing and unity for the nation, or enough progress for Aboriginal people.” 

NSWALC Chairman, Cr Roy Ah-See Part 1 Below 

What is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

A declaration is a statement adopted by governments from around the world. Declarations are not legally binding, but they outline goals for countries to work towards.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) represents 20 years of negotiation between Indigenous peoples, governments and human rights experts, and argues that Indigenous peoples all around the world are entitled to all human rights, including collective rights.

The rights within the Declaration, which was formally adopted by Australia in 2009, set standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples.

Why have a Declaration for Indigenous peoples?

The Declaration is necessary to combat the policies of assimilation and integration employed by colonisers throughout the world that have uprooted, marginalised and dispossessed First Nation peoples. This common history of dispossession created many circumstances that remain unique to Indigenous cultures. These groups bear similar marks of colonisation, while continuing to practice their incredibly diverse cultures and traditions.

The rights of all people are protected through international law mechanisms. However, what these fail to provide to Indigenous peoples are the “specific protection of the distinctive cultural and group identity of indigenous peoples as well as the spatial and political dimension of that identity, their ways of life.”[1] Prior to the Declaration there was a lack of a legal guarantee of Indigenous communities to their collective rights, such as ownership of traditional lands, the return of sacred remains, artefacts and sites, and the guarantee of governments to honour treaty obligations.

What does the Declaration mean for Australia?

The Declaration sets out rights both for individuals and collective groups. This reflects the tendency of Indigenous groups around the world, to organise societies as a group (a clan, nation, family or community). An example of these group rights is the acknowledgment that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have the right to own country, hold cultural knowledge as a group and the right to define their groups.

Some other rights secured in the document include, the right to equality, freedom from discrimination, self-determination and self-government. Many of these rights are already secured through Commonwealth and State legislation. However, the Declaration is Australia’s promise that mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will be able to benefit from these rights.

The significant disadvantages currently faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia only serve to highlight the ongoing relevance and importance of the Declaration.

What is self-determination and why is it important?

Self-determination is a key part of the Declaration, and is a right unique to Indigenous communities around the world. Self-determination can only be achieved through the consultation and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the formation of all policies and legislation that impacts upon them. Self-determination is characterised by three key elements that require Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have:
 Choice to determine how their lives are governed and the paths to development
 Participation in decisions that affect the lives of First Nation peoples.
 Control over their lives and futures, including economic, social and cultural development.

A campaign for Makarrata launches in Sydney today Thursday August 9, when Aboriginal people and their supporters will walk from Hyde Park to the NSW Parliament.

Led by the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) and Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations (CAPO), the walk will call on Parliamentarians to join a movement for a better future for Aboriginal people, and all Australians.

NSWALC Chairman, Cr Roy Ah-See said that the walk will promote a positive alternative agenda for Aboriginal affairs in the state. .

Makarrata is gift from the Yolngu language. It means coming together after a struggle. It has been used nationally since the National Aboriginal Conference in the late 1970’s and featured prominently in the historic Uluru Statement from the Heart.

 

“What we have seen to date are disconnected stepping stones towards a vague future focused on survival. What we need is a clear pathway for Aboriginal people to thrive, and for all Australians to walk with us on this journey.

“Our successes have been many, but we still face significant challenges.  We want to see increased prosperity for Aboriginal families across the state, with more of our people going to university and getting better jobs.

“We want to see our children flourishing; walking proudly and successfully in two worlds. Taking part in the economy and enriching the country with their culture.

“By walking with us we are asking all political parties to commit to genuine partnership, to face our challenges together, and grow and support our successes.

“NSW is where the struggle started, and it is right that the largest state, with the largest population of Aboriginal people in the country takes genuine steps towards Makarrata,

“We are looking for all Australians to join us on our journey towards Makarrata,” Cr Ah-See said.

Walk with us, join us at www.makarrata.org.au

 

Part 2

There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.

Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Despite their cultural differences, indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples.

Indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their identities, way of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources for years, yet throughout history their rights have always been violated. Indigenous peoples today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world. The international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect their rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life.

2018 Theme: Indigenous peoples’ migration and movement

As a result of loss of their lands, territories and resources due to development and other pressures, many indigenous peoples migrate to urban areas in search of better prospects of life, education and employment.

They also migrate between countries to escape conflict, persecution and climate change impacts. Despite the widespread assumption that indigenous peoples live overwhelmingly in rural territories, urban areas are now home to a significant proportion of indigenous populations. In Latin America, around 40 per cent of all indigenous peoples live in urban areas — even 80 per cent in some countries of the region. In most cases, indigenous peoples who migrate find better employment opportunities and improve their economic situation but alienate themselves from their traditional lands and customs. Additionally, indigenous migrants face a myriad of challenges, including lack of access to public services and additional layers of discrimination.

The 2018 theme will focus on the current situation of indigenous territories, the root causes of migration, trans-border movement and displacement, with a specific focus on indigenous peoples living in urban areas and across international borders. The observance will explore the challenges and ways forward to revitalize indigenous peoples’ identities and encourage the protection of their rights in or outside their traditional territories.

The observance of the International Day will take place on Thursday 9 August 2018 from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the ECOSOC Chamber at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The programme can be found in Events. More information in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) page.

International Year of Indigenous Languages

View above interactive map HERE

Languages play a crucially important role in the daily lives of all peoples, are pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, peace building and sustainable development, through ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. However, despite their immense value, languages around the world continue to disappear at an alarming rate due to a variety of factors. Many of them are indigenous languages.

Indigenous languages in particular are a significant factor in a wide range of other indigenous issues, notably education, scientific and technological development, biosphere and the environment, freedom of expression, employment and social inclusion.

In response to these threats, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a Resolution (A/RES/71/178) on ‘Rights of Indigenous Peoples’, proclaiming 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

On Twitter, follow #WeAreIndigenous#IndigenousDay#IndigenousPeoplesDay, and #UNDRIP

NACCHO Aboriginal Health, #UluruStatement and Referendum : Download : Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition release interim report, putting calls for a Voice for First Nations people back on the national agenda

 ” The Labor-initiated Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition has today released its interim report, putting calls for a Voice for First Nations people back on the national agenda.

 More than a year after the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Final Report of the Referendum Council, the overwhelming evidence to this Committee is that First Nation’s people want a Voice, and a more meaningful say in the issues that impact their lives.

Nine months ago the Prime Minister rejected the Uluru Statement and the proposal for a Voice to Parliament through the Referendum Council, labelling it ‘undesirable’ and ‘unwinnable’ – characterising the Voice as a ‘third chamber of Parliament’.

Despite this, Labor fought to establish the Committee to keep the issue of constitutional recognition on the agenda of the Parliament. Labor has worked hard through the committee to get cross party support for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Labor is pleased the interim report puts all options back on the table, including constitutional change and the establishment of regional Voices “

Senator Dodson’s Labor Party Press Release in Full Part 2

Download Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition HERE

 Interimreport

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has presented its interim report to the Parliament.

The report centres on the proposal for a First Nations Voice, which arose from the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The report considers evidence in relation to the constitutionality, structure, function, and establishment of The Voice, and examines past and existing advisory bodies and new proposals that might inform the design of The Voice.

The report also considers other proposals for constitutional change and proposals for truth-telling and agreement making.

The Committee acknowledges the high level of interest in its inquiry, and wishes to thank the many individuals and organisations who made submissions and met with the Committee. The Committee will continue to consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader community.

The Committee is seeking additional submissions examining the principles and models outlined in the report, and addressing the questions posed in the final chapter. Additional submissions should be received by 17 September 2018.

The Committee acknowledges the frustration caused by the length of time taken to advance constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Committee is hopeful that, through this inquiry, it can play a constructive role in developing proposals for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The Committee is due to present its final report to the Parliament on 29 November 2018.

The interim report is also  on the Committee’s website at: www.aph.gov.au/jsccr.

Part 2 Senator Dodsons Press Releases

The Labor-initiated Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition has today released its interim report, putting calls for a Voice for First Nations people back on the national agenda.

More than a year after the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Final Report of the Referendum Council, the overwhelming evidence to this Committee is that First Nation’s people want a Voice, and a more meaningful say in the issues that impact their lives.

Nine months ago the Prime Minister rejected the Uluru Statement and the proposal for a Voice to Parliament through the Referendum Council, labelling it ‘undesirable’ and ‘unwinnable’ – characterising the Voice as a ‘third chamber of Parliament’. Despite this, Labor fought to establish the Committee to keep the issue of constitutional recognition on the agenda of the Parliament. Labor has worked hard through the committee to get cross party support for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Labor is pleased the interim report puts all options back on the table, including constitutional change and the establishment of regional Voices.

The Committee is an opportunity for the Parliament to work together to give First Nations people a Voice to Parliament and push forward a Makarrata commission to oversee truth-telling and agreement-making.

Labor remains committed to working with First Nations people, the broader community and the Parliament on this task. Labor has always supported the Uluru Statement and remains committed to working with First Nations people to ensure their voices are heard – including through a voice to Parliament. It is time for the Prime Minister to reverse his position and back these calls.

Over the next few months the committee will be undertaking further consultations, traveling to other parts of Australia to speak with both First Nations and the broader community before delivering a final report in November.

In the absence of cross party support necessary to achieve constitutional change Labor has promised in government to legislate for a voice to honour the aspirations held in the Uluru statement, whilst not losing sight of the need for constitutional guarantee.

We will work to build support for a referendum. For the honour of our Nation, for the respect of all Australians, for the sake of equality and fair treatment – constitutional recognition of First Nations people must happen.

It will happen

NACCHO #NAIDOCWEEK #BecauseofherWeCan #WeCan18 @RecAustralia Interview with NACCHO CEO Pat Turner “A reconciled nation will be when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have self-determination over their own lives without the constraints of poverty and the burden of disease “

“ A reconciled nation will be when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have self-determination over their own lives without the constraints of poverty and the burden of disease. We will be in charge of our own affairs and in control over decisions that impact on us.

Our past will be fully acknowledged and our collective future celebrated without reservation. There will be no more debates over our shared history and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ land ownership.

Racism will not be a barrier to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing education, employment and health services.

There will be complete acceptance of our unique cultural heritage and identities by all Australians enabling our languages, our connection to land and our cultural practices to flourish without restraint and be incorporated in all aspects of our nationhood “

Pat Turner AM NACCHO CEO interview with Reconciliation Australia when asked  : What does a reconciled Australia look like to you?

“They’ve allowed us to retain our identity”

NACCHO Aboriginal Health Australia CEO Pat Turner tells National Rural Health Alliance  Di Martin about the importance of Aboriginal grandmothers guarding language and culture #BecauseOfHerWecan

VIEW HERE

Background Pat Turner AM

Ms Pat Turner AM is the daughter of an Arrernte man and a Gurdanji woman, and was born and raised in Alice Springs.

After her father’s death in an accident at work, Ms Turner’s family experienced extreme financial hardship. Her mother’s courage and leadership in the face of such difficult circumstances was a constant inspiration.

Ms Turner joined the Australian Public Service in the early 1970s and joined the senior executive ranks by the mid-1980s. She worked in a range of prominent roles, including as Deputy Secretary in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet during 1991-92, where she had oversight of the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. In 1994-98, Ms Turner was the CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, making her the most senior Indigenous government official in the country.

Over the years, Ms Turner became more committed to the politics of self-determination. At a professional level, this meant being a firm supporter of community-based service delivery of health and welfare programs for Aboriginal people.

Today, Ms Turner is the CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). NACCHO is the peak body representing 144 Aboriginal community-controlled health services across the country on Aboriginal health and wellbeing issues.

Interview continued: What or who got you involved in reconciliation? 

I first started thinking about reconciliation and the place of Aboriginal people in Australia after attending the graduation ceremony of Uncle Charlie Perkins from Sydney University with Nanna Hetty Perkins. I was thirteen at the time, and listening to Charlie speak, I started to understand the importance of education if I wanted to make a difference.

After joining the Australian Public Service and moving from Alice Springs to Canberra, I was later appointed Deputy Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. It was here I had a specific role in working for the Government on the legislation and establishment of the Council of Aboriginal Reconciliation. I was the inaugural National Secretary to the Council.

After returning to Alice Springs in 2006 I held the position of CEO of National Indigenous Television where I supported the celebration of Indigenous culture and helped challenge perceptions and fears of many non-Indigenous Australians about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that are a continuing barrier to reconciliation.

What do you see as the biggest challenges to national reconciliation?

Our biggest challenges are twofold:

Firstly, making both Federal and State Governments truly accountable to eliminate poverty and disadvantage endured by our people.

Secondly, acceptance and respect by all Australians of our unique cultural heritage and identities, our relationship with land, our languages and our cultural practices, so that those areas and the essence of our beings are incorporated into all aspects of Australian life and government efforts to eliminate our disadvantage.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health : @theMJA Publishes special @naidocweek #IndigenousHealth #CloseTheGap #Ulurustatement #FirstNations open access edition

 ” While Closing the Gap has become an iconic representation of Indigenous advocacy, it remains essential to maintain focus on the individual components of disease processes, epidemiology, intervention delivery, and cultural mechanisms that influence the achievement of significant change.

The MJA will ensure it strengthens its role in delivering the relevant data to clinicians, policy developers, and the Australian community.

Indigenous health: One gap is closed See Part 1 Below

“DESPITE a slight narrowing over the past decade, the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the general population remains significant.

On average, the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are around a decade shorter than those of non-Aboriginal Australians – a shocking statistic for a high income country.

This gap has been attributed to many factors, most of which relate to high levels of socio-economic disadvantage.

Now, new research points to multimorbidity as a significant driver of higher mortality rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.”

See Part 2 Below Multimorbidity as a significant driver of higher mortality rates

  ” Aboriginal people are under stress and we need to take some of that away by recognising their existence and their self-determination. The Uluru Statement is a good place to start.”

He says that he’s no hand wringer and he’s optimistic that the cultural change can happen.

The government won’t take constitutional recognition to a referendum yet because it doesn’t think the public has come around to it. But I think the public is ahead of the government here, just as it was for same-sex marriage. There’s an enormous willingness in the public to embrace First Nations people. I think there’s a huge capacity for change.”

The Uluru Statement is a good place to start SEE Part 3 Below

Read full edition Here

Part 1 Indigenous health: one gap is closed

The 2017 MJA Indigenous health issue explored the social determinants of health that are essential to closing the gap between health outcomes for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, specifically targeting cultural awareness and communication.1

The issue also placed recent gains in the life expectancy of Indigenous Australians in perspective,2 and recognised achievements by an often silent yet dedicated clinical community.

The Journal has continued to develop these themes. In this year’s Indigenous health issue, four research papers and the accompanying editorials underline the progress we are making as a journal and as a medical community in bringing about meaningful change.

In this respect, the report by Hendry and colleagues,3 documenting the effective closure of the gap in vaccination rates, is particularly heartening. Vaccination is recognised by the World Health Organization as one of the most cost-effective interventions in public health.4 Hendry and her co-authors describe a program in which Aboriginal Immunisation Healthcare Workers identify and follow up Indigenous children due or overdue for vaccinations, a program that has achieved equality of full vaccination coverage for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in New South Wales at 9, 15 and 51 months of age.

This remarkable outcome is especially significant given the high background susceptibility of Indigenous children to vaccine-preventable diseases. While it is not clear whether the improvement in vaccination rates is attributable to the dedicated program structure or to the deployment of culturally aware health workers, it is certain that partnerships between modern clinical methods and traditional cultural awareness will continue to be the model of choice for improving Indigenous health.

Also noteworthy is the authors’ combination of high quality research with statistically sound methodology in a culturally appropriate setting, a mix essential to the Journal, as detailed in the 2017 Indigenous health issue.1,5 Banks and colleagues6 applied similarly robust and culturally appropriate methodology to draw attention to the substantial undertreatment with lipid-lowering therapies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

They found that 4.7% of Indigenous people aged 25–34 years are at high primary risk, but this age group is not assessed for cardiovascular disease risk under current national guidelines. The accompanying editorial7 summarises a suite of targeted interventions that build on these and other findings published in the Journal.8 While these approaches are no doubt important, adapting the successful approach of Hendry and colleagues’ to vaccination,3 to provide a similarly structured intervention for lipid-lowering therapy, could be a game-changing strategy for closing the gap in cardiovascular disease.

The MJA recognises the power of big data and data linkage studies. Randall and colleagues9 analysed linked hospital and mortality data to explore in depth multimorbidity in Indigenous patients in NSW.

The necessary policy and clinical responses are placed in perspective by Broe and Radford10 in their editorial. They note the especially higher level of comorbidities among Aboriginals in mid-life age groups than in non-Aboriginals of the same age, and that this difference is correlated with the age-group peak in the mortality gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, highlighted in this Journal last year.2 While the wealth of information made available by big data-based research can sometimes be overwhelming, the MJA prioritises analyses that can change practice..

Finally, Gunasekera and colleagues11 report the high degree of agreement between diagnoses by audiologists and otolaryngologists of otitis media in Aboriginal children, suggesting that audiologists could triage cases in areas where specialist services are limited.

The false negative rate was low — in 3.0% of children, audiologists did not diagnose otitis media subsequently detected on image review by an experienced otolaryngologist — and the most serious form, tympanic membrane perforation, was never missed. These findings may open pathways for children in high risk settings — where otitis media is common (prevalence of 29% in this study) but otolaryngologists are few — to more efficiently receive specialist care.

The articles in this issue show that progress in medical and research methodology can be meaningfully combined with cultural sensitivity. The Journal welcomes submissions that further develop these approaches. More broadly, the MJA will continue to highlight emerging issues of significance to Indigenous health, and is leading a global collaboration with major overseas medical journals to publish a joint issue on the health of indigenous peoples around the world in 2019.

While Closing the Gap has become an iconic representation of Indigenous advocacy, it remains essential to maintain focus on the individual components of disease processes, epidemiology, intervention delivery, and cultural mechanisms that influence the achievement of significant change. The MJA will ensure it strengthens its role in delivering the relevant data to clinicians, policy developers, and the Australian community.

Part 2

Published in the MJA, the study linked hospital and mortality data for around five and half million New South Wales residents, from 2003 to 2013.

The authors from the University of New South Wales, led by Dr Deborah Randall, found a much higher prevalence of multimorbidity (defined as two or more medical conditions) among people with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background than among the non-Indigenous population.

After adjusting for age, sex and socio-economic status, the rate of multimorbidity in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was more than 2.5 times that of the non-Aboriginal population.

The relatively higher rates were found across all age groups, and peaked at around the age of 40 years. In younger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this was largely driven by mental health issues, while in those aged over 60 years, it was mostly due to physical conditions.

A secondary endpoint for the study was one-year all-cause mortality after 2013. The rate for this was also around 2.5 times greater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and was significantly associated with multimorbidity.

According to Professor Tony Broe, Conjoint Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of NSW and co-author of an editorial on the study, the research has two major implications, one for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the other for chronic disease control in general.

“First, there’s the much higher rate of multimorbidity in Aboriginal people, which is no mystery, but what the study authors have done is to show the data and put a figure on the issue. That’s important.”

Professor Broe, whose recent research work has focused on Aboriginal health and ageing, says that the second lesson from the study is that Australia is not managing multimorbidity and chronic disease very well, whether it’s in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people or across the general population.

“The current approach to chronic disease is that we treat by specific disease and specialty. So, the respiratory physician will deal with lung disease and the cardiologist will deal with heart disease et cetera. That’s the wrong approach. What those of us involved in Aboriginal health have done is to say, well, these diseases all have the same risk factors. So, we decided to look at hypertension, smoking, mental health disorders and other risk factors as a group of things to tackle.”

Professor Broe says that in order to reduce multimorbidity prevalence, there needs to be a switch of focus away from episodic medical care towards preventive medicine.

“You come in with pneumonia and they give you a treatment, but what we want to do is to prevent you coming in with pneumonia in the first place. We need more focus on preventive medicine and we should be getting the GPs to do it, not the specialists. The specialists can help out with chronic disease programs, but it should be GPs who are running them.”

But Professor Broe says that the preventive approach won’t be enough on its own to improve the health and mortality rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. A large part of the solution is non-medical, he says, and requires a major cultural change.

“A lot of the comorbidities of younger Aboriginal people relate to mental health issues, driven by stress and trauma. In fact, a study we’ve just published shows that even the high rates of late-life dementia in Aboriginal people are associated with childhood stress and adversity. Aboriginal people are under stress and we need to take some of that away by recognising their existence and their self-determination.

Perspectives

PODCASTS

James S Ward, Karen Hawke and Rebecca J Guy

Med J Aust 2018; 209 (1): 56 Free

John A Stevens, Garry Egger and Bob Morgan

Med J Aust 2018; 209 (1): 68 Free

Multimorbidity in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people

GA (Tony) Broe and Kylie Radford

Med J Aust 2018; 209 (1): 16-17 Free

Part 3 THE Medical Journal of Australia and MJA InSight endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The Statement, a consensus from the First Nations National Constitutional Convention held in May 2017, calls for “establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution” and seeks “a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history”.

It affirms the connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with the land, and highlights the social difficulties and ongoing suffering faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The MJA accepts the invitation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to join with them “in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”.

The MJA has been at the forefront of striving for health equity and equality for all Australians, including our First Nations peoples. We know the legacy of the MJA over 104 years is but a tiny fraction of the history of our nation, although our contribution in this short time has helped to spotlight our First Nations peoples’ health, including, all too often, the astounding and continuing inequities.

We recognise there is an ongoing health crisis that is clearly felt in the hearts of the First Nations peoples.

The 2018 Indigenous issue of the Journal, like those before it, continues to expand knowledge of Indigenous health determinants and issues and, even more crucially, begins presenting practical solutions to improve First Nations peoples’ health by harnessing modern medical understanding integrated with uncompromising cultural awareness. The task is far from complete. The Journal commits not only to support the Uluru Statement but to continue to prioritise publications that will integrate the statement into a health care and societal movement.

Health is integral to the spirit of all cultures; it is underpinned by social determinants obligating recognition, understanding and complete cultural awareness as identified in the Uluru Statement. If health equity and equality are to be achieved for all Australians, and if Australians all agree this is a fundamental human right and that it is un-Australian to think otherwise, then we must join hands and move forward to create a better future for us all.

Laureate Professor Nick Talley, AC, is editor-in-chief of the Medical Journal of Australia.

NACCHO Aboriginal Health and #UluruStatement from the Heart : #UpholdandRecognise says Past failures demand we open our hearts to #Indigenousvoices

” We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. In 1967, we were counted. In 2017, we seek to be heard.”

The Uluru Statement from the Heart

” The key contribution of Upholding the Big Ideas is that it presents us with models for how the Australian Parliament might hear Aboriginal voices and do so more effectively.

Two options are suggested. The speaking for country option, which would require the Commonwealth to establish and recognise local entities for Indigenous people who would speak for their communities. The second option is where the Commonwealth would establish a national Indigenous advisory body whose members would be chosen by delegates from local indigenous organisations.

Whether you agree or disagree with the proposals advanced, they invite us all to think afresh especially about what it would mean to implement the call for Parliament to hear Indigenous voices more effectively.”

Michael Kirby is a former High Court judge and was the recipient of the Australian Human Rights Medal 1991

Uphold and Recognise, an organisation committed to reconciling two imperatives: to uphold the Australian Constitution and to recognise Indigenous Australians, has joined with the Australian Catholic University to produce a policy document: Upholding the Big Ideas.

UPHOLDING THE BIG IDEAS

Options for Discussion Downloads

A fuller declaration of Australia’s nationhood

Hearing Indigenous voices

Journey from the heart

Makaratta

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Just over a year ago, 250 Aboriginal representatives from all parts of Australia met at Uluru and issued what they called the “Statement from the Heart”.

Rachel Perkins launching Upholding the Big Ideas of the Uluru Statement from the Heart

At its core was the call for the Australian Constitution to be amended to provide for a First Nations’ Voice to Parliament.

The Prime Minster, Malcolm Turnbull, subsequently remarked that the Uluru Statement contained “big ideas” but was short on detail as to how the ideas might be implemented.

A year later, it is time for Australians to respond thoughtfully to the voice of our Aboriginal people. This is necessary to spell out exactly what is needed in the here and now.

At first, I probably had concerns similar to those that caused our Prime Minister to reject the big ideas of Uluru.

He did so, however, before there had been any real discussion, or an opportunity for Australians at large to debate the options for implementing them.

His response was intuitive. But we need to do better than that. Intuitive responses to new ideas are sometimes sound. But not always. Thoughtful people, with a sense of justice, will sometimes reconsider their intuitive
reactions. They will think again. This is such an occasion.

Most fair-minded Australians would agree that, so far, we have not done such a good job of listening to the voices of our Indigenous people. Their persisting disadvantages are a stain on our country’s nationhood.

Given the initial failure after 1788 to agree to a treaty with our Indigenous peoples (as occurred in New Zealand and other colonies of the British Crown), and the failure to engage in any consultation with the Indigenous people a century later, when our national Constitution was adopted, it is surely
appropriate for us to think again about what our First People are proposing to us.

The failure to recognise their rights over their traditional lands was a long-lasting source of economic deprivation. It contributed significantly to the disadvantages that Indigenous people still experience in Australia in so many aspects of their lives —including in housing, healthcare and education.

So, when representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Australia came together to make a serious proposal to their fellow citizens, it behoves us all to give their proposal careful consideration. Not to reject it out of hand.

Rejection was the attitude that led to the original denial of land rights—an injustice that took us 200 years to correct. This time we need to do things better and quicker.

In recent years, many leading citizens of Australia have begun to ask what we can do to ensure that our country and all its citizens will be reconciled fully and justly with our Indigenous peoples.

The key to real progress lies in going beyond mere symbolic acts, like acknowledging the traditional
custodians of the land on public occasions or inserting poetic recitals in all our constitutions federal or state (so long as they have no legal consequences).

The key to making real progress lies in listening to the voices of our Indigenous people whenever important issues arise that affect them and their communities in a special way.

Listening is always important. But it matters most of all in the federal Parliament, where our country’s most important laws are debated and adopted.

That is what the Uluru Statement from the Heart requests: it does not ask for special reserved Aboriginal seats or proportional Indigenous representation in federal parliament; it does not ask for a veto on legislation; it does not expect that what the Indigenous voices say will always be agreed to or accepted.

After 230 years of substantially ignoring their voices; after 200 years of rejecting their land rights until the High Court’s Mabo decision in 1992; after 150 years of representative government, substantially without hearing such voices; and in the light of so many persisting problems and injustices, the request for a non-binding voice to the federal Parliament, on matters that are
important to our Indigenous people, does not seem an excessive or unreasonable demand.

It is one that a self-confident and just parliamentary democracy should be willing to deliver.

If we had adopted this big idea much earlier, we might have avoided the many mistakes and injustices that have marred Australia’s relationship with its Indigenous peoples until now.

Parliament has not made such a good fist of things that it can fairly reject this proposal as unnecessary or premature.

The best place to locate an obligation to hear such voices in Parliament would be in our national Constitution — where many other provisions concerning the Parliament are found.

That would ensure that the proposal could not be abolished or diluted through the vicissitudes of partisan politics.

It would emphasise the unique, historical and corrective character of the reform that marks off our Indigenous people from other groups and minorities in Australia. The proposal for a direct voice to Parliament is the central call of the Uluru Statement.

If constitutional change is considered too much to ask, however, the very least we should do immediately is to urge our Parliament, acting out of its own powers, to respond, from the Heart of our Democracy, and to afford a unique voice to our Indigenous fellow citizens to speak directly to the Parliament on matters that specially concern them.

That said, we also need to hear them when they remind us that our Parliament has set up such a voice for them before, and then proceeded to silence that voice because there was no constitutional obligation requiring Parliament to hear their voices.

We should listen to their voices. We should open our ears to their voices. And we should open our hearts to what they say.

Michael Kirby is a former High Court judge and was the recipient of the Australian Human Rights Medal 1991.