As we did last year, Wendy Brooks and Partners will not be celebrating Australia Day, but will be working on the public holiday as a symbolic yet important step towards national reconciliation.
However, as Luke Pearson (a Gamilaroi man) says, “it is not enough to just change the date as if the only problem with modern-day Australia, or its history, is the date on which we were holding our national celebration.
Change the date was never simply about the date, it was merely a symptom, a symbol, a challenge to the nation to ask itself: What kind of country would want to celebrate on this date?”
The next question we must ask ourselves is “What kind of country do we want to live in?”
The Uluru Statement from the Heart states, “The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under their own laws and customs…. This sovereignty has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown”.
“With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.”
Wendy Brooks and Partners believes we need to follow the set of reforms specifically sequenced in the Uluru Statement of the Heart: first, a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution and second, a Makarrata Commission to supervise treaty processes and truth-telling.
Only then can we have a country in which all Australians can be proud of.
Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts (a Bundjalung woman) challenges us, “So tell me, are you the bystander or the person who stood beside?
Come and rise.