Showing all posts tagged: Indigenous culture

An alternative to a Voice: an Indigenous Australian state?

26 September 2023

In a few weeks Australians will vote in a referendum to decide whether the Australian constitution should be amended to include a Voice, an advisory body, for the nation’s Indigenous people. It’s an idea some people are not in favour of though, including a number of First Nations Australians.

Some Indigenous Australians are concerned a Voice may be tantamount to ceding sovereignty. Some would prefer a treaty. Others, the idea of a set number of Indigenous seats in the Australian parliament, along, for instance, the lines of the Māori electorates in New Zealand.

Misha Saul however suggests the interests of Aboriginal people would be better served by the formation of an Indigenous state, rather than ideas such as a Voice, treaties, and even Native title.

Isn’t this the most ambitious and satisfying of objectives? Indigenous Australians could have a state of their own, far larger than the miraculous successes of the twentieth century like Israel of Singapore of South Korea.

This is the first time I’ve heard of such a proposal.


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Four hundred Australian authors back Voice to Parliament

23 August 2023

Four hundred Australian authors have thrown their support behind the campaign that seeks to amend the Australian constitution to include an Indigenous Voice to parliament.

Katherine Brabon, Shankari Chandran (winner of the 2023 Miles Franklin literary award), Mick Cummins, Sophie Cunningham, Peter FitzSimons, Robert Lukins, Andrew Pippos, Christos Tsiolkas, Pip Williams, Tim Winton, and Charlotte Wood, are among authors who have put their name to the Writers for the Voice website:

We, Writers for the Voice, accept the generous, modest invitation of First Nations Peoples in the Uluru Statement from the Heart to walk with them towards a better Australia.

We support their call for recognition via a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament because we believe passionately that this major reform, the product of broad grassroots consultation and supported by the great majority of First Nations Peoples, will lead to better outcomes for First Nations Peoples. It’s only fair.

What a simple, straightforward, to the point, statement. Contrast that with the scare campaign that some people who are opposed to the idea of the voice, are orchestrating.


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The Last Daughter a film by Nathaniel Schmidt, Brenda Matthews

21 June 2023

For decades until the 1970’s, some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were forcibly removed from their families by successive Australian governments. These children became known as the Stolen Generations. Indigenous woman Brenda Matthews was taken from her family aged two, and placed in the care of a white family.

Matthews was later returned to her birth family after her biological mother regained custody of her. The The Last Daughter, trailer, a documentary which Matthews co-directs with Nathaniel Schmidt, recounts her story as she attempts to trace her adoptive, loving, white foster family, while learning more about her Indigenous family.

The Last Daughter is presently screening in selected Australian cinemas.


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The Voice to Parliament Handbook, what an Indigenous voice means

21 June 2023

Australians will be participating in a referendum sometime in the next six months to decide whether a change should be made to the constitution, to create an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Such a Voice would take the form of an independent body made up of Indigenous Australians.

Delegates of this body, who would not be elected members of parliament, would be tasked with advising the Australian government and parliament on matters pertaining to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Their input however would not be binding.

Changes to the Australian constitution are never simple or straightforward. The process, and discussion, involved in making amendments, can be confusing and unsettling. To better understand the purpose of the Voice, and what it means, Hardie Grant have published a book called The Voice to Parliament Handbook.

Written by Thomas Mayo, a Torres Strait Islander, and Uluṟu Statement advocate, and journalist Kerry O’Brien, with illustrations by cartoonist Cathy Wilcox, the handbook aims to answer some of the more commonly asked questions about an Indigenous Voice to the Australian parliament:

A handy tool for people inclined to support a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum, The Voice to Parliament Handbook reflects on this historic opportunity for genuine reconciliation, to right the wrongs and heal the ruptured soul of a nation. This guide offers simple explanations, useful anecdotes, historic analogies and visual representations, so you can share it among friends, family and community networks in the build-up to the referendum.


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Revive, Australia’s new National Cultural Policy unveiled

31 January 2023

Revive is the name the Australian federal government has given to a new five principle, five year, National Cultural Policy, that was made public yesterday.

Revive is a five-year plan to renew and revive Australia’s arts, entertainment and cultural sector. It delivers new momentum so that Australia’s creative workers, organisations and audiences continue to thrive and grow, and so that our arts, culture and heritage are re-positioned as central to Australia’s future.

Core objectives of the policy include the recognition of the work of Indigenous artists and creators, recognition of artists as workers, and increased support for cultural institutions. A revamp of the Australia Council for the Arts, and the creation of Writers Australia, which will “provide direct support to the literature sector from 2025”, are among other initiatives on the cards.


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Proposed new policy boosts funding for Australian arts sector

2 January 2023

Speaking at the annual Woodford Folk Festival that concluded yesterday, Australian federal arts minister Tony Burke announced a raft of initiatives to bolster the local arts sector. A proposed five-pillar policy includes an undertaking to increase recognition of the work of Indigenous creatives, and plans to introduce fairer remuneration rates for artists:

The minister promised to treat “artists as workers”, criticising the [previous] Coalition government for exclusions on jobkeeper wage subsidies and for the comments by the former prime minister Scott Morrison praising “tradies … building the stage” but not artists.

In addition, streaming services such as Netflix and Stan will be subject to quotas, ensuring they air more Australian made content. Also the Lending Right Schemes, which pays a royalty to authors when a library loans one of their books out, will be expanded to include ebooks.


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A Voice to Parliament for Indigenous Australians

1 August 2022

The Australian government has undertaken to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the Australian constitution. While it is unclear at this stage exactly what form a Voice to Parliament would take, the purpose is clear:

A Voice to Parliament is a body enshrined in the Constitution that would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives.

A referendum, a necessary step in the process of altering the constitution, has been proposed for 2023, giving the Australian people the opportunity to have their say in the matter.

An Indigenous Voice to Parliament is seen as an important step in Australia’s ongoing reconciliation with its First Nations people.


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Remaining mindful of Australian Indigenous reconciliation

7 June 2022

National Reconciliation Week, a celebration of Australian Indigenous history and culture, concluded last Friday, 3 June 2022. But there are still ways we can remain mindful of reconciliation, and the history and culture of Indigenous Australians, daily, and immersing ourselves in First Nations art, film, and literature, are some of the ways we can achieve this.