Tonight I took some time to send a submission in to the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart from the 2017 First Nations National Constitutional Convention held at Uluru. Submissions close June 11th so I wanted to get this in as I feel very strongly about this issue.
Here’s what I wrote:
To the Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples,
The first peoples of Australia have lived as part of this continent for many times longer than the ancestors of James Cook lived in the UK(*), let alone this brief period of European colonisation called Australia.
They have farmed, shaped and cared for this land over the millennia, they have seen the climate change, the shorelines move and species evolve.
Yet after all this deep time as custodians of this land they were dispossessed via the convenient lie of Terra Nullius and through killing, forced relocation and introduced sickness had their links to this land severely beaten, though not fatally broken.
Yet we still have the chance to try and make a bridge and a new relationship with these first peoples; they have offered us the opportunity for a Makarrata and I ask you to grasp this opportunity with both hands, for the sake of all Australians.
Several of the component states and territories of this recent nation of Australia are starting to investigate treaties with their first peoples, but this must also happen at the federal level as well.
Please take the Uluru Statement from the Heart to your own hearts, accept the offering of Makarrata & a commission and let us all move forward together.
Thank you for your attention.
(*) Australia has been continuously occupied for at least 50,000 years, almost certainly for at least 60,000 years and likely longer. The UK has only been continuously occupied for around the last 10,000 years after the last Ice Age drove its previous population out into warmer parts of what is now Europe.
Chris Samuel : http://www.csamuel.org/ : Melbourne, VIC