The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) of the Uniting Church has welcomed the Government”s commitment to a new statement of reconciliation in the preamble of the Constitution citing its significance would be predicated on its negotiation with Indigenous people.
National UAICC Administrator Rev Shayne Blackman, said that while the proposed constitutional changes are a step in the right direction a central concern if the Prime Minister is re-elected, is going to be his willingness to engage the rights of Indigenous people to negotiate how the preamble is to be worded and what socio-economic outcomes it will drive.
“If negotiation with Indigenous people is not central to the proposed constitutional changes then it will have just been symbolisim for electioneering and a continuation of forced assimilation of Indigenous people into mainstream ideals”, said Mr Blackman.
“Nevertheless the UAICC welcomes this constructive move that affirms Indigenous peoples” unique place in Australia.
“It has been a long held desire of Aboriginal and Islanders to have their identity and rights affirmed in the Constitution as a prelude to an effective national framework of Indigenous policy and programs that will deliver truly equitable socio-economic outcomes.
“To date the Government”s broad Indigenous governance policy has been grounded in mainstreaming that rejects the notion that equality does not always mean identical treatment.
“The Government needs to understand that success in any Indigenous endeavour is usually undergirded by a system that enables personal and collective decision making based on our unique cultural values and expressions.
“The present approach of “quick fix” solutions through mainstreaming tend to be narrow and singular in focus, time bound and incapable of addressing many of the long standing complex Indigenous issues of which reconciliation is just one.
“If Indigenous Australians are to fully realise their potential then it is imperative that a model of governance empowers their dreams, expectations and beliefs and not the obligations imposed upon them by the Government.
“Only a system of governance that engages Indigenous people to have a full and non-conditional voice in their destiny through choice will enable a full realisation of their inherent strengths and God given abilities.
“We call upon the Government of the day to put politics aside and to incorporate Indigenous wisdom into their policy programming for Australia”s first people” said Mr Blackman.
Photo : National UAICC Administrator Rev Shayne Blackman