As I sat down to write my contribution to the discussion on why The Voice of Indigenous & Torres Strait Islanders needs to be enshrined into the Australian Constitution, the word ‘reconciliation’ came into my head.
Now you may think that would be obvious given the topic however this time it wasn’t. I realized that this word was calling me to unveil its power. It was calling me to do some research on the word itself.
As I googled and searched actual dictionaries in my book collection, I discovered an overwhelming emotion within the definitions.
One definition started it for me – ‘It is the noun form of the verb reconcile, which comes from the Latin reconciliāre, meaning “to make good again” or “to repair.” Reconciliation is meant to repair relationships that are broken.’
Another was – ‘the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.’
As I looked further, it was obvious that ‘reconciliation’ holds a power to change…a power to find a way to harmony, peace, cohesion, and growth.
I have long been a passionate supporter for the Australian Constitution to have our First Nations people firmly included on every level.
I am fortunate to have been born in Australia however my families come from Scotland and Prussia. I had the even greater fortune to grow up with my Cousin Christine.
Christine and I were the same age. We both felt like ‘only childs’ due to our Siblings being so much older than us. We spent every school holiday together as well as most weekends. We would call on the phone at the end of every school day, checking in on each other. Christine would always say she wished she could go to school with me and not to hers. She went to a private girls school and I went to a public school. Christine had no friends to play with and I too was challenged for in my suburb, as the child of a Single Mother back in the ’60s, bullying for this ‘difference’ was common. Christine was subjected to nasty bullying regularly, however not because she was a child of a Single parent as my Uncle and Auntie were great providers and very much a solid family unit. She endured a harsher school life – she was an Adopted Aboriginal girl in an all-white environment. In the 60’s and ’70s, racism was alive and well. Our story is unique however the part of my life spent with Christine created the foundation for my passion to somehow find a way for this ‘white’ girl to contribute to the change that has to happen.
The Uluru Statement is central to this change. To understand, I share what it is –
The Uluru Statement is an invitation from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to “walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”. It calls for structural reforms including the constitutional change to establish a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution.
The Voice to Parliament will provide an elected committee of respected Indigenous Leaders the ability to advise the government on policies that directly affect our Indigenous communities. This fact alone should be enough for this to be enshrined into our Constitution. Our Indigenous communities have long been left behind in the areas of employment, healthcare, security, education, and more. Why? Why would we as a Nation still be so far behind in these basic human rights areas.
Our Indigenous communities hold the heart of our Nation. They are the storytellers of days past. They hold the richness of life and have so much for us to learn, understand, embrace and they hold the key to unite us all for the future.
I’m confused and bewildered as to why we are even having this conversation. Am I missing something? I do not understand why our Constitution can’t have this enshrined and I do not understand why our Governments have not acted sooner. I do understand that in order to have this occur a Referendum needs to take place.
In 1967 a referendum to include Indigenous Australians in the census and for laws specifically designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People was conducted. 90.7% of the population voted overwhelmingly in favor of that!
So, there is my point! Australian History has already shown support. Why then, are we still writing editorials, blogs, and media pieces calling for it? Why is the debate still continuing? Why, when we hear in our own conversations that everyone wants this to occur, are we not?
Perhaps if we reflect on a time in our lives when we have ‘reconciled’ with a loved one…with a friend we haven’t seen for a long time…the way we felt in that moment. The joy and peace that it gave us. Perhaps if we bring that to the ‘table’ we can finally say “Come….let’s do this…it’s time”.
- Heart Hugs, Jaynie xxx
Jaynie Morris is an Author, Speaker and Advocate for Women over 50. She is the Founder of SheroesUnlimited Global Community for Women Over 50.