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.
We’re calling for real change, not mere symbolism. It’s time Indigenous people are acknowledged as our First People and have their voice enshrined in the constitution.
This month, marie claire joins forces with some of Australia’s biggest and brightest names to unite for change.
Here, cover stars Jessica Mauboy, Miranda Tapsell and Samantha Harris reveal why the issue of Indigenous constitutional recognition is close to their heart…
“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,” says Mauboy. “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.”
For Harris, constitutional recognition is so much more than a piece of paper. “It makes my blood boil that we’re the only [major] Commonwealth country that doesn’t have a treaty with its Indigenous people. It’s been 250 years; it really is time,” she says.
To move forward, Australia needs to unite and stand together, says Tapsell, “Australians have the power to fix this, but they have to make it a priority. As a result of a very short-sighted view of history, most non-Aboriginal citizens forget that the structures on which the colonial parliament was built were never designed to see us. It erased the nation’s first people. Real change doesn’t happen unless everyone pushes for it. As Dean Parkin, Uluru Statement signatory, says, ‘The voice to parliament is our chance to speak our piece. What we ask today is that you listen and that you take up the call, arm in arm with us.’”
Read more in the February issue of marie claire, on sale now.