Broaden the Conversation
National Reconciliation Week 2022
This National Reconciliation Week we’re looking at self-determination & sovereignty, reconciliation and refusal, resurgence, moving beyond reconciliation and Indigenous voice.
Each day we provided a short summary of these (big) topics, with links to more information.
#BeBrave and Broaden the Conversation with us.
Self Determination and Sovereignty
Nothing about us without us
Self-determination and sovereignty are about being Indigenous on Indigenous country with whole identities and autonomous lives. It is about land rights and governance, language and law, culture and heritage, health and wellbeing. Indigenous people having control of the issues that affect them, bringing their knowledge to the fore.
Indigenous peoples' wellbeing across all facets of life depend on their ability to be self-determining.
- Uluru Statement of the Heart: View the statement
- Patrick Dodson, ‘Until the Chains are Broken: 2007 Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture'
- Megan Davis, Indigenous Constitutional Recognition from the Point of View of Self-Determination and its exercise through Democratic Participation July / August, Volume 8, Issue 19
Contextualising reconciliation within self-determination and sovereignty
The notion of reconciliation fails to address the systemic injustices endured by Indigenous peoples as a result of colonisation. Action needs to be taken to ensure that there are treaties that support the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the First Peoples, that there are Indigenous voices in our parliament.
There is so much to gain from embracing Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous culture, and Indigenous history. It’s time to address the power imbalance: Be Brave and broaden the Conversation.
- The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria: https://www.firstpeoplesvic.org
- Larissa Behrendt, Self-determination and Indigenous Policy: the Rights Framework and Practical Outcomes, Journal of Indigenous Policy, Issue 1, 2002
A politic of Indigenous refusal
Indigenous refusal is a self-determined state of citizenship that privileges Indigenous identity rather than its relationship with the state. This encompasses a refusal to engage in colonial ways of knowing, being and doing that promote the erasure of Indigenous knowledges, kinship, practices, nation borders, language and many other measures of sovereign indigeneity.
Refusal offers an alternative Indigenous citizenship paradigm and broadens the vision of Indigenous possibility. It challenges the concepts of recognition and reconciliation by removing the confines of comparison and celebrating Indigenous sovereign identity in and of itself.
- Simpson, A. (2014). Mohawk interruptus: Political life across the borders of settler states. Duke University Press.
Resurgence of Indigenous ways of being
Indigenous resurgence is a process of decolonisation that specifically requires the repatriation of Indigenous land and life. It involves the regeneration of Indigenous intellectual, political, cultural, economic and social traditions and is a reinvestment in Indigenous ways of being.
Resurgence offers new (but old) ways of being that promote Indigenous-specific dialogue and truth-telling. It does not rely on ideas of difference, comparison or deficit-based approaches.
- Simpson, LB (2011) Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence, Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Pub.
- Alfred, T, Corntassel, J (2005) Being Indigenous: Resurgences against contemporary colonialism, Government and Opposition 40(4): 597–614.
- Alfred, T. (2013) 'Being and Becoming Indigenous: Resurgence Against Contemporary Colonialism', Narrm Oration, University of Melbourne
- Tuck, E, Yang, WK (2012) Decolonization is not a metaphor, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society 1(1): 1–40.
Beyond recognition - Sovereign nations and self-governance
Recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as merely existing does not shift the power imbalance and imposition of discriminatory policies and practices that deny the potential autonomy and sovereignty of the many nations of this continent. Recognition, whilst a prerequisite for change still calls for the dominant group to recognise the dominated. It is not an entrance to an equal partnership.
Reconciliation, premised on recognition that leads to ‘good relations’, has a long history in this country of avoiding the historical and ongoing practices that do not allow the full possibilities of Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty. Moving beyond recognition, Indigenous self-governance, voice and autonomy offer Australia the tools with which to re-set the ‘blak and white’ relationship.
- Coulthard, G. S. (2014). Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition, University of Minnesota Press.
- Bond, Chelsea (2019) The Uncomfortable Truth About Reconciliation, NITV
An Indigenous Voice to Parliament
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation to the Australian People from First Nations Australians to walk together with the establishment of a Voice to Parliament.
A Voice to Parliament is a body enshrined in the Constitution that would enable Indigenous people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives. A Voice to Parliament gives the Australian Government the opportunity to collegially make policies with Indigenous people.
A Voice to Parliament is important because it will give Indigenous people agency (self-determination) to help inform decisions that impact their lives. Currently, there is no apparatus for Indigenous people to influence policy and decision making. A Voice to Parliament, enshrined in the Constitution, would enable Indigenous people the opportunity to advise the Federal Parliament about laws and policies that impact them through a simplified policy-making process and structural change.
- Uluru Statement from the Heart - https://ulurustatement.org/the-statement/
- Davis, M., & Williams, G. (2021). Everything you need to know about the Uluru Statement from the Heart. UNSW Press/NewSouth Publishing.
- McKay, D. (2017). Uluru Statement: a quick guide. Law and Bills Digest Section, Parliament of Australia: Canberra, Australia.
- Norman, H. (2019). From recognition to reform: the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Does the media fail Aboriginal political aspirations, 45, 216-231.
An Indigenous Voice and truth-telling
Yoo-rrook Justice Commission
The Yoo-rrook Justice Commission is the first formal truth-telling process into historical and ongoing injustices experienced by First Peoples in Victoria. It has built on decades of First Peoples’ activism for a truth and justice process.
It will establish an official record of the impact of colonisation on First Peoples in Victoria and develop a shared understanding among all Victorians of the impact of colonisation, as well as the diversity, strength and resilience of First Peoples' cultures.
Yoo-rroock will also make recommendations for healing, system reform and practical changes to laws, policy and education, as well as to matters to be included in future treaties. This is an act of self-determination.
- Marcia Langton on proposals for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, Late Night Live
with Phillip Adams, ABC 2021
- Yoo-rrook Justice Commission website
- First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria website