I’m a few days late with this but needed to say something anyway.
On May 27th 1967, Australians voted in a referendum to change how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were referred to in the Constitution (including granting them the right to vote and be counted in the census). Over 90% of those who voted in the referendum voted, “Yes” – the highest “yes” vote ever recorded in an Australian referendum.
Last Friday, May 26th 2017, the summit at Uluru rejected ‘symbolic’ recognition in favour of a treaty and a constitutionally enshrined voice in Parliament.
See this link for a great resource of history leading up to the referendum, what happened after it and where to now. I’m going to find time to read/watch/listen to them all (I’ve just skimmed a few for now). http://www.abc.net.au/rightwrongs/
Another excellent article is linked here, from The Monthly, making the point (as I discuss below!) that “all such attempts [at engagement] must start with a genuine effort to listen” and providing some voices to listen to. The quoted text below comes from the Uluru Statement From the Heart and deserves to be read in full.
“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.”
I am conscious that as a white Australian, I need to listen to the stories of Indigenous Australians – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – and hear them, to amplify the stories. It won’t be comfortable but it will be powerful. See this link for an example of what I mean. Let’s practice dadirri, a Nauiyu Aboriginal practice of “inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness….There is no need to reflect too much and to do a lot of thinking. It is just being aware.” The example of dadirri given in the link above is in a health context and speaks to me. In order for trust and relationship to be built, we have to let go of our own ways of doing things and listen to the ways of others. To find the common ground. From the article:
“DADIRRI HAS TAUGHT me to let conversations move at the pace of the heart, so pain and complexity can bubble up without being stymied by a hasty solution. It has taught me to let stories leave an impact, to alter me as the tide alters a shoreline. Held in the boundless embrace of two humans connecting deeply, I have learnt even the most awful stories can find an inexplicable buoyancy, a possibility our hurting nation desperately needs. Aboriginal men and women have redefined what listening means to me, and given me a glimpse of what ‘reconciliation’ could really mean.
As non-Aboriginal Australians we must learn to listen to things we find difficult to hear. We need to stop interrupting and speaking over Aboriginal people, slow down and enter the deep stillness that will help us to hear something new. If we held open the connection long enough, the full, complicated story could come tumbling out, and we might experience the buoyancy and hope that comes when humans truly listen to one another. There, in that inestimable space of human connection, we might finally begin to reconcile.”
Please read it and the other links in full. There’s so much good stuff there.
Here are a few other links I found over the past few days too:
Songlines – the Indigenous memory code: I’d known before about the way songlines were and are important as memory-aids. I hadn’t thought about applying it myself. Maybe I should….I love song and my memory isn’t the greatest at times.
Indigenous weather knowledge site (Gariwerd calendar): Indigenous peoples have a different understanding of weather seasons. Perhaps wider Australia should adopt them too. There are different weather calendars for different parts of Australia, too. Gariwerd is the one listed for Victoria…. six seasons. We’re in Chunnup right now.
Finally, it seems appropriate to end with this song: Treaty.