Federation to host dialogues on the First Nations Voice to Parliament

It is important that the Australian community learns about the importance of constitutionally enshrining a First Nations Voice to Parliament.

By Professor Andrew Gunstone

Earlier this year, Federation University endorsed the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a beautifully evocative invitation to the Australian community to walk together to address its three elements of Voice, Treaty, and Truth.

The document was created in May 2017 at the First Nations Constitutional Convention at Uluru. This Convention was the culmination of 13 dialogues held across Australia involving many hundreds of Indigenous delegates.

Endorsing the Uluru Statement from the Heart is a critical step in our university’s reconciliation journey. We are strongly committed, in engaging in this journey, to a holistic and substantial approach to reconciliation.

In March this year, I established the National Centre for Reconciliation, Truth, and Justice, which provides national and regional leadership in academic, industry, and community understandings and engagements in these three key areas.

We were delighted to launch the National Centre at our Ballarat campus. A highlight of the launch was a panel discussion with Senator Pat Dodson and Dr Jackie Huggins, AM FAHA, on reconciliation.

I have also appointed three Indigenous Professorial Research Fellows – Professor Bindi Bennett, Professor Dennis Foley, and Professor Emma Lee – who are working with me on several key education, research, outreach, and engagement projects.

Next week, during National Reconciliation Week, the National Centre will host a series of dialogues across our Victorian and Brisbane campuses, that are open to university students and staff and the wider community.

These dialogues will analyse and provide information on the constitutional referendum on a First Nations Voice to Parliament. A Voice to Parliament is the first element of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

In the lead-up to the referendum later this year, it is vitally important that the wider Australian community genuinely learns about the importance of constitutionally enshrining a First Nations Voice to Parliament.

Enshrining a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Constitution is critical to ensuring Indigenous peoples will have a say to the Parliament and Executive about matters that impact upon them and their communities.

Over many decades, national and international experiences and research clearly demonstrate that Indigenous programs have a significantly higher chance of success when Indigenous peoples are genuinely engaged in designing and implementing these programs.

Joining me in these dialogues will be Indigenous leaders from the National Centre – Professors Bindi Bennett, Dennis Foley, and Emma Lee – and the wider university – Katrina Beer, Nick Johnson, Eva Orr, and Julie Sanders.

Also joining me will be National Centre Advisory Board members Emma Garlett, Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA, Commissioner Sue-Anne Hunter, and Professor Barry Judd, and National Centre Adjunct Professor Dr Donna Odegaard AM.

Our 13 panellists collectively bring many decades of significant community, academic, and industry leadership, experiences, and expertise in reconciliation, truth, and justice, to our First Nations Voice to Parliament campus dialogues. For example:

  • Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA is a member of the Australian Government-appointed Referendum Working Group and the Referendum Engagement Group, which are advising the government on successfully implementing the Voice referendum.
  • Dr Donna Odegaard AM (who chaired the National Co-Design Group) and Professor Emma Lee were members of the Australian Government-appointed Indigenous Voice National Co-Design Group, which developed the Indigenous Co-Design Process Final Report.
  • Commissioner Sue-Anne Hunter is Deputy Chair of the Yoorrook Justice Commission, the nation’s first formal truth-telling body, investigating historical and ongoing injustices experienced by Traditional Owners and First Peoples in Victoria.

People can register here to attend a dialogue at our Ballarat, Berwick, Brisbane, Gippsland, and Wimmera campuses.

Professor Andrew Gunstone is Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Reconciliation and Professor Indigenous Studies at Federation. He is an international expert in academic and industry understandings and engagements in reconciliation, truth, and justice. He is responsible for all reconciliation matters at the university, including the National Centre for Reconciliation, Truth, and Justice.

Professor Gunstone is also Co-Chair of Reconciliation Victoria, Foundation Editor of the Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues (established in 1998), and works closely with Reconciliation Australia, where he is a member of their national RAP leadership group.

Jim Chalmers wants a truly independent RBA. He should be careful what he wishes for

5 May 2023

The treasurer says he is on board with recommendations of the review of the RBA. One of them is to make the bank independent by removing the treasurer’s power to overrule its board.

How raptors are saving crops — and sports — from pesky corellas

27 April 2023

Raptors are being used to help disperse nuisance bird flocks and reduce the damage they cause to agriculture, sporting complexes and infrastructure.

Co-operative Centre of Excellence brings vibrancy to the heart of Ballarat

20 April 2023

VIDEO  Vibrant new learning and meeting spaces in the heart of Ballarat’s CBD are connecting students and academics with business and the community as part of a major campus revitalisation.