I’ve been away from the Australian media for many weeks. I really don’t want to write about how upsetting the noise about the voice is. It feels like there is constant invitation to fight and hate and blame. And, I think that is what works for the no campaign.
This should have been pretty simple. Aboriginal people were the first peoples on this land. They were displaced, excluded, prepared for extinction, killed and lost their young. We need to find a way forward, to be a country on country. Elders gathered at Uluru and prepared a way forward. The Voice was one element. It would provide both recognition of the first peoples of this land in the constitution and creation of a structure for advice. Advisory groups come and go with the changes in the political landscape. Having the Voice in the constitution removes it from the predictable shifting winds of point scoring politics.
Then it was made complicated. I am very wary of touching any of the objections or any of the purported benefits. It’s not that I am being rude or dismissive of any concerns or any hopes. I just think those discussions take us further away from the core of what is being asked; Recognition and advice. This has come from the Uluru Statement from the Heart; This is enough for me.
I suspect like many Australians, I grew up not knowing that I was Aboriginal. I knew some family history but not much. I knew that the massacres and stolen generations and white Australia policy were nasty. I didn’t realise that my family history had elements of hiding and disappearing. While I know more of my Aboriginal history now, than all the other threads, there is also English, Irish, and Dutch-German history (and probably Viking because nearly everyone seems to have grabbed those genes J ) and underlying all these, connection to country. I’m a Gulidjan man, a Clinical Psychologist and overfond of conversation. I grew up in the outer suburbs and understand the inevitable attraction and gravitational pull of a fight. These are identities I bring to this moment.
We have a chance to progress reconciliation in this country. I’m asking you keep recognition and advice at the core of your reasons, while you find the other reasons that are important to you. This won’t be the end of the journey to reconciliation; Not structurally, not culturally, not between people and not within people. It will place the first people in the current founding document, and construct an ongoing place for advice. Where that advice takes us to is rightfully tomorrow’s journey.
Dr Peter Brann – Senior Clinical Psychologist