Finding the heart of the nation

IEU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee Report

The focus of the IEU Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee this year has been the preparation of the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Respect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

The three areas to be addressed in developing the Respect RAP are:

  • our business (who we are and what we do)
  • our RAP (our vision for reconciliation) and
  • our partnerships (engagement with reconciliation).

Members of the committee had the opportunity to access a special webinar with Sydney Peace Prize winners Pat Anderson AO and Professor Megan Davis for a conversation about the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its three objectives: a Voice to Parliament ,Treaty and Truth.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation to the Australian people to walk with First Nations People to create a better future. It is a gift: a strategic roadmap to peace, where all Australians can come together to realise our nation’s true potential.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart has been the subject of some controversy recently.

The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch supports the Uluru Statement as part of the Branch’s commitment to the reconciliation process. Copies of the Statement hang proudly in our offices.

The IEU Council on 18 March passed a motion to actively campaign for a ‘yes’ vote in the upcoming referendum to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders a Voice to Parliament.

The Committee supports this motion.

So why should members vote ‘yes’ in the referendum? The 1967 Referendum deleted discriminatory references to Aboriginal peoples but it failed to make the structural changes necessary to achieve Voice, Treaty, Truth.

The Voice to Parliament is a structural reform that will create an institutional relationship between governments and First Nations people that will compel the state to listen to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples when making decisions that will affect their lives and aspirations.

Treaty (Makarrata) is a process of agreement making and truth telling. Having a Voice to Parliament will ensure the negotiations will be positive and successful.

Truth – there is a need for people to know more about Australian and Aboriginal history. The lack of acknowledgement of a people’s existence in a country’s history has a major impact on their sense of identity and value within the community. It perpetuates discrimination and prejudice which further erodes the hope of our First Nations people. There is also an association with socio-economic disadvantage and subsequent higher rates of mental illness, physical illness, and incarceration.

Constitutional change of this kind could unite Australians around a sense of their shared history which for the first time in the Constitution would include the long habitation of the continent by First Nations People. The committee recommends that all members of the NSW/ACT Branch accept the invitation to walk with First Nations people to create a better future, where all Australians can come together to realise our nation’s true potential.

Look out for IE magazine

Have a look at IE magazine, which you received with this issue of Newsmonth. There’s a story called Lessons in Wiradjuri on p18. A primary school in Parkes is showing the way when it comes to teaching Wiradjuri, embedding the language throughout the school, even on the stairs (see above).

Finding the Heart of the Nation

In this year of our nation on the cusp of great change, the IEU is offering a special giveaway, with a copy of Thomas Mayor’s Finding the Heart of the Nation and the children’s book Finding Our Heart on offer with every issue of Newsmonth.

In Finding the Heart of the Nation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander author Mayor gets behind the politics and legal speak to explain why the Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation to all Australians.

Australia is set to vote on a referendum to enshrine a First Nations voice in the constitution as a result of the 2022 federal election.

In this book, Thomas focuses on the stories of First Nations People, including some new voices, looking at the truth of our past and present, and hopes for a better future. Importantly, he shares with you – the Australian public – how we all have the power to make change. The campaign for Voice Treaty Truth, starting with a referendum, is an opportunity to right some of the wrongs, give First Nations People a seat at the table, and to recognise that we are a nation with over 60,000 years of continuous culture.

Completing his writing just after the 2022 federal election, Thomas has included a new introduction and conclusion, as well as a call to action for all Australians. Finding Our Heart is a book about the Uluru Statement for young Australians. Watch and listen to Thomas Mayor reading the book here

Check out Giveaways

Jackie Groom