October 12, 2023

As a member of the Redfern Women’s Reconciliation Network (RWN), I am grateful for the Indigenous people, especially women, I have come to know and love over the years and how much I have learned through these friendships, listening to their stories, their cultural beliefs, their sufferings and their spirituality. While we can’t actually walk in another’s shoes, we can learn to walk with them, beside them and listen.

Also, I am grateful to our wonderful, warrior woman and Grail sister, Erica Kyle, a resident of Queensland’s Palm Island, who worked for many years as an activist fighting for justice for her people. She welcomed Grail women to her place, Palm Island, to educate us about the stories of her people as well as taking us fishing! She opened our eyes and hearts to the suffering of her brothers and sisters living on Palm Island (many of today’s community members are descendants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people forcibly removed to Palm Island from throughout Queensland) and we came to know their feelings of powerlessness and of how they were treated by police…

I believe she would have been thrilled when the Uluru Statement from the Heart was written by her people in 2017, having been agreed on by more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, nominated by their communities.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for a Voice, which would be an advisory committee of Indigenous people from all around our country that can give advice to politicians in Canberra to improve the lives of Indigenous people.

There are real gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in life expectancy, infant mortality, health, housing, education and employment. For decades, politicians have spent billions on programs that haven’t fixed problems or delivered meaningful improvements for Indigenous communities.

But when we listen to people about the decisions that affect them, we get better results. Indigenous Australians have made the modest request to be listened to about their own issues and their own communities and given a chance to propose their own solutions.

Parliament and Government can choose to listen to the advisory committee, or not, when they are looking for solutions to improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians – and ultimately make the final decision.

More than 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people support the proposal. Our First Nations peoples want a Fair Go and recognition in our country. Hence the invitation to us, their sisters and brothers across the land, to walk with them to achieve the outcomes they want.

Ruth Crowe

The Grail, Sydney