By Andrew McKaysmith, Synod Writer and Content Creator, with Kym Korbe – Koa, Kuku Yalanji (Wakka Wakka), Manager RAP Program, UnitingCare
In partnership with QPAC, Multicultural Australia recently hosted an enlightening series of discussions called “Changing the Conversation”. This series brought together esteemed thought leaders from academia, government, business, and the community to engage in robust conversations about the complexities of multiculturalism in the Australian context. Focusing on our national identity and creating an inclusive and caring society, the inaugural event in the 2023 series explored the significance of the Uluru Statement from the Heart for diverse voices in today’s society.
Over 750 attendees had the joy and privilege of hearing from influential advocates, community leaders, and champions. Prominent figures such as John Paul Janke, Mick Gooda, Dr Shireen Morris, Callum Ah Chee, Elijah Buol, Allira Davis, and Kym Korbe were also among the distinguished panellists. John Paul Janke highlighted that the Statement had been translated into over 20 Indigenous languages and more than 60 other languages, reflecting its broad significance. Elijah Buol OAM, MAICD, powerfully emphasised that it’s not about creating history but confirming our First Nation history. Mick Gooda’s moving recitation of poems by Oodgeroo Noonuccal was deeply impactful. Callum Ah Chee humbly shared his experiences leading conversations on and off the field.
Kym Korbe is a powerful woman of faith, a Koa, Kuku Yalanji woman with historical ties to Wakka Wakka and the UnitingCare Manager of the Reconciliation Action Plan Program. In part of her commentary, she emphasised that the Voice referendum is an opportunity for all Australians to be part of something remarkable.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a call from trusted and respected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members. It is a heart cry for all Australians to walk in the spirit of deep listening so that we may seek truth and treaty. The voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples comes in many forms, but the Voice to Parliament, as proposed by the Referendum Working Group, offers a central place where the executive government can more easily seek counsel from a representative body on matters about First Nations affairs.
It has been proven that better outcomes are achieved when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are consulted on matters that affect them and their communities, and asking to be consulted is no unreasonable request.
First Nations peoples are the sovereign peoples of Australia, and this sovereignty brings valuable knowledge about lands, waters, skies and ways of being that, if listened to, could bring about social change that would be transformative.
God teaches us through Proverbs 18:13, “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.”
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples do not want special treatment; we ask that those who decide how best to support our self-determination respectfully include us in that decision-making process.
Australians are tasked with considering how they wish to contribute to designing their future with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This is an essential and potentially really exciting time in our shared history when we can be again proud of how we responded to the call from the central desert and Heart of our nation.