This is a great year to get on board with Aboriginal issues!
• Did you know that Aboriginal peoples, who are our first people in Australia, have no mention in the founding Constitution of Australia? Recognise.org.au is a website that will lead you to discover issues concerning Constitutional Recognition. Read up and become informed, particularly for this election year, as a Referendum is being prepared, hopefully to engage the majority of Australians in the issue. Research shows that only about 40% of people are aware of the referendum proposal.
• We have much to be aware of in ‘Closing the Gap’. When Aboriginal people are severely over represented in the prison system, in dying at a younger age, in suicide rates and in lack of access to the same health and education resources enjoyed by others, we have cause to reflect and ask ourselves: what do we really know about the culture, history, current discriminatory practices, lack of inclusion and so forth? Why is alcohol such a problem? What are the difficulties facing authentic engagement?
• Let us be a nation who can be proud of our indigenous people and history, because we know about them, we talk about and uplift them, we engage with them, we join with the story and the struggle, listening, learning and changing ourselves as we do so. We can keep in mind our need to do the three R’s – Recognise, Repent and Reconcile – and become better people!
It was amazing to join with many people at Surrender from 14th – 17th March. Here I met with Manuel – a wonderful person who was invited to speak in a session: “Walking with the tragedy, trauma and triumph of the stolen generations”. Manuel was not called by his name during many yearsin a boy’s home in NSW – he was only known as Number 28. When calling a dog one day, he was asked by the overseer to call it by it’s name – Prince- to which Manuel replied: “Yes, sir”. Manuel was called by a number, the dog by a name.
There are many unknown stories like this which are a blight upon our nation, and for our ignorance, we need to feel sorrow, even if the reason has been ignorance and indifference. Once we know, we can then identify, feel compassion and walk alongside our brother and sisters.
Major Marion Weymouth (Territorial Social Justice Secretary).