What led you to become involved with WRN?
In the 1990s during the Reconciliation decade, I became more aware of the poor treatment and living conditions of our First Nations people. We, new settlers, had been advantaged by living in this country. I was fortunate to be amongst the small group of people who were motivated to organise our advocacy through WRN to advance and fortify knowledge of our First Nations’ people’s history in this country as a first step towards rectifying the wrongs colonisation and settlement had befallen them. Today our First Nations people had been decimated to represent only 3% of the entire Australian population.
In your view, what are the biggest challenges Australia is still facing in regard to reconciliation?
Truth-telling and First Nations people’s voice remains the biggest challenge Australia is still facing. Without new settler Australians reaching a deep awareness of the continuing injustice faced by our Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that had intergenerational negative impact on them, we will continue to fail them. We will not hear their voices. We will not be able to recognise their legacy — the wisdom of the earth, Mother Earth, and their special knowledge of the terrain and the waters, our common ground on this part of our planet.
3. What are your aspirations for Australia’s future in terms of the relationship between Australia’s First Nations people and Australia’s settler communities?
To move forward, advance together, and find lasting peace in our country — is my dream. It is achievable if we learn to listen to our First Nations people’s VOICE now. Time now to turn away from mere symbolism and tokenism to assuage our guilt. Time now to respect and learn from each other’s history. Time now to recognise the legacy we have taken from them that has remained invisible to us. Once we take time to learn from our legacy of Country, listening respectfully to our First Nations people’s voice, our constructed boundaries and differences between us and them will melt away. We will be truly united in our diversity as peoples. Only then will our common aspirations for Australia’s future grow our wings together, and fly.