A dark cloud has been cast over First Nations people, as Australia rejected 65,000 years of culture to be recognised in a 200-year-old constitution.

I am a proud Wiradjuri woman, born and raised on Gadigal and Biripi land.

October 14, 2023, a day I anticipated to be monumental in Australia’s history, cast a shadow over my people. Unfortunately, the outcome was not what I had hoped for.

As First Nations people in this country, we were once again let down.

A significant majority of our community (over 70 per cent) voted in favour of a Voice to Parliament. Regrettably, the majority of Australia (over 60 per cent) voted against it, effectively determining our fate on an issue that solely affects us.

We have consistently extended kindness and generosity in our efforts to reconcile and bridge the gaps in education, employment, life expectancy, and more between our people and non-Indigenous Australians. We’ve shared our rich culture and extended a hand to unite and walk together.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart was a plea from our community to help mend the wounds left by colonisation. The first component: A Voice.

The request was simple, one that does not impact non-Indigenous Australians in any way.

The simplicity was deliberate. As Noel Pearson explained, “Frankly, the Voice is a proposal so pathetically understated that I’m amazed most Indigenous people are settling for it. After all, I helped design it as something so modest that no reasonable non-Indigenous Australian could reject it. More fool me.”

A very simple and understated request in the scheme of things, that my people have been denied.

To illustrate the situation, imagine a scenario:

Suppose aliens invade Earth tomorrow, taking over Australia. They commit atrocities, bring diseases, and lay claim to our land. They abduct our children, stripping them of their culture. They establish a government and a system that excludes and discriminates against us. Their stated goal is the elimination of our people.

Their jobs, education, and entire system are foreign, making our survival difficult even without their active efforts to eradicate us.

Fast forward 200 years, and the impact of this invasion remains profoundly felt by us humans, with little effective action taken to rectify the situation.

Now, in a time of peace, we’ve forgiven the invaders.

In an effort to achieve a more equitable society and address the overrepresentation of our people in prisons, unemployment, and high suicide rates, we suggest, “Wouldn’t it be a good idea if we could share our knowledge on what is best for humans? This could guide better decisions for everyone.”

It would have no legal power, so Aliens need not accept the knowledge. It would merely offer guidance.

However, imagine if these aliens, now making up 97 per cent of the population, voted against it, essentially telling us, the original inhabitants, that we have no say in our way of life.

How would you feel, particularly if these aliens constantly dictated what was best for us and unleashed racism against us during a debate over this proposition?

This is the reality for First Nations people. Not only has this country voted against a brighter future for our people, it has been vocal, aggressive, racist, and cruel.

This has been an incredibly challenging time for community. Even those First Nations people who did not support the Voice have witnessed this horrific display of racism.

So, what happens next?

The undeniable truth is that First Nations people have been deeply wounded. Instead of continuing down the path of reconciliation through kindness and generosity, as I mentioned earlier, expect a louder, more assertive approach. It’s evident that patience and subtle avenues are not achieving the desired results.

Anticipate more First Nations Australians aligning with the views of individuals like Lidia Thorpe, who seek to chart a course independent of white Australia. Expect us to fight for our people like never before.

I can’t predict the exact future, but one thing is certain: we won’t merely survive; we will thrive.

As the world’s longest-surviving culture, our perseverance is unwavering.

If you’re mob reading this, I’m sorry for how this country has let you down. I see you, and I will continue to fight for our people in every way I can.


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By Rahul

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