Apart from suspicion that it may not work or that Treaty and Truth Telling have greater importance it's hard to see quite why there's opposition to a YES vote in the upcoming referendum here in Australia.
I can do better than this – I can be better than this. When I arrived in this land over fifty years ago it was as an immigrant. If this isn’t part of your family story then you’re Aboriginal, the Original people, the ones our ancestors pretended didn’t count for anything.
“In 1962 the Australian Parliament passed a landmark Act to give all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the option to enrol and vote in federal elections. But it was not until 1984 that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were finally treated like other voters and required to enrol and vote in elections.”
In 1975 I had the rare opportunity to work and live, 24 hours a day for about three months, with two groups of tribal men who were brought together by the Arts Council of N.S.W. with the aim and purpose of bringing some sense of Aboriginal culture to Primary schools across N.S.W. It was a profound and somewhat heart breaking experience.
“Culture? Where are their cathedrals?” – this echoes my dad’s understanding of Aboriginal culture – if you can’t see it in the material world then it doesn’t exist. He saw a broken people without having any understanding of what actions by our ancestors led to the situation now existing. Strange indeed as the substance in his ceremonies isn’t visible either.
They’re not a broken people but trauma with all its attending aspects can’t be denied and it’s inter-generational. This is something that many of us know and endure.
The last twenty years or so of my working life was within the Disability field in which I was a key worker – I advocated for my clients and did so with an intimate understanding of their needs and wants.
Who better to advocate for Aboriginal people than an advisory body made up of Aboriginal people with that same intimate knowledge of needs and wants.
Do they speak with one voice? No more than any other group of human beings but that shouldn’t be reason to deny that voice the chance to exist and speak.
We can do better than that.