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Jessica Mauboy Reveals What Indigenous Recognition Would Mean To Her

"I am Darwin, I am the Northern Territory, I am the saltwater, the freshwater and the desert"
Georges Antoni

Australia’s reigning Queen of Pop Jessica Mauboy has had an amazing few months – her new album Hilda debuted at #1 on the Arias Albums Chart, she got engaged to long-time boyfriend, Themeli Magripilis and now she’s making headlines for publicly declaring her new-found voice on Indigenous issues.

The 30-year old hitmaker is fronting marie claire’s #ItsTime campaign – pushing for long-needed reform to recognise our Indigenous brothers and sisters in the Australian constitution – and in an interview with Sydney’s The Sun-Herald newspaper she reveals how she had felt silenced in the past, by certain figures in the Australian music industry.

“For years I felt as though I couldn’t show my true identity,” she said in the interview. “Now I am confident in who I am as a woman, as a performer. I feel unchained. There is still so much inequality when it comes to communities, especially in remote places. How can that be in 2020? It’s not right and if this helps bring that to an end then I hope people can see how important that is for all Australians.” 

RELATED: Why We Need To Support The Uluru Statement From The Heart


Jess – along with actor Miranda Tapsell and model Sam Harris – is fronting the #ItsTime campaign launching in the February 2020 issue of marie claire. The year 2020 marks 250 years since James Cook’s first voyage to Australia, yet today Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people still aren’t acknowledged in our constitution. 

The time is now for recognition and reform, as called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We’re calling for the government to take real action, not mere symbolism, and we have partnered with dozens of Australia’s biggest and brightest names to unite for change.

Here, Jessica Mauboy opens up about what recognition means to her…


“My middle name is Hilda, after my grandmother. Nana was a soaring power. She was an Indigenous woman who fell in love with a white European man; it was a secret love because there was still segregation at the time. Being an Indigenous woman with a white fella, Nana struggled. But she stuck to her path. I think that’s where I get my fire from.

I was born on Dreamtime land and grew up in Darwin with my mum and four sisters in the suburb of Wulagi. I walked to school every day hand in hand with my sisters, and we’d swim in the local waterfall in the afternoons – minding the freshwater crocs. I feel like I was born cultural. I am Darwin, I am the Northern Territory, I am the saltwater, the freshwater and the desert.

I recently went back to Uluru in the Northern Territory, and digging my feet in the red dirt felt powerful. I was there just before they banned climbing it and removed the chain. Uluru has always felt really free to me, especially now the chains are gone. The same thing needs to happen with our constitution, we need to lift the barrier to move forward. For me, Indigenous constitutional recognition would mean freedom.”

This story originally appeared in the February issue of Marie Claire, out now. 

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