‘Why didn’t we know?’ is no excuse. Non-Indigenous Australians must listen to the difficult historical truths told by First Nations people

Sat, 29 Jul 2023 06:44:53 +1000

Andrew Pam <xanni [at] glasswings.com.au>

Andrew Pam

"Big things are being asked of history in 2023. Later this year, we will vote
in the referendum to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
representative body – the Voice to Parliament – in the Australian constitution.

The Voice was introduced through the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which
outlines reforms to advance treaty and truth, in that order. And it calls for
“truth telling about our history”.

Truth-telling has been key to restoring trust and repairing relationships in
post-conflict settings around the world. Historical truth-telling is
increasingly seen as an important part of restorative justice in
settler-colonial contexts.

The UN recognises the “right to truth”. It’s important to restore dignity to
victims of human rights violations – and to ensure such violations never happen
again. But there’s also a collective right to understand historical oppression.

The Uluru Statement, too, sees truth-telling as essential for achieving justice
for Australia’s First Nations people.

A successful “Yes” referendum outcome has the potential to make history. The
Voice will structure a more effective relationship between Aboriginal nations
or peoples and government. It will better represent Indigenous interests and
rights in Australia’s policy development and service delivery.

However modest this reform, the Voice is outstanding business for the nation.

But the Uluru statement’s call for “truth-telling about our history” will prove
more difficult."

       *** Xanni ***
mailto:xanni@xanadu.net               Andrew Pam
http://xanadu.com.au/                 Chief Scientist, Xanadu
https://glasswings.com.au/            Partner, Glass Wings
https://sericyb.com.au/               Manager, Serious Cybernetics

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