'INSPIRED by the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and featuring outstanding Indigenous writers, Renewed Promise is an urgent, nuanced and robust call to listen, hear and respond to questions of constitutional recognition.
'More than two centuries after European settlers arrived, the need to find an honourable way to recognise and celebrate the unique history of this country as home to the oldest living civilisation is long overdue. A Makaratta Commission is the preferred way to do this, to make agreements and enable truth-telling about our history.
'Are we ready to make peace and devise firmer ground for laws, policies and outcomes that improve Indigenous and non-Indigenous life in Australia? With this special edition, Griffith Review excavates history and re-imagines the future, while not forgetting the urgencies of the present.
'Published with the support of QUT' (Publicaton summary)
'Long before 1873, when William Christie Gosse ‘discovered’ the six-hundred-million-year-old sandstone monolith at the centre of Australia and called it Ayers – for the about-to-be-deposed South Australian Colonial Secretary – Uluru has had symbolic power that outstrips even its imposing physical dimensions. For the Anangu people, custodians for millennia of the deeply spiritual Uluru and nearby Kata Tjuta, life is based on a foundation of law, religion and morals known as tjukurpa, which encompasses the creation period, the present and the future.' (Introduction)
'If the Uluru Statement from the Heart was an example of the trans-formative potential of liberal democratic governance through civic engagement beyond the ballot box, the aftermath of Uluru revealed the limitations of Australian retail politics. The Uluru Statement from the Heart was a call for peace and the Referendum Council proposed reforms – a roadmap to peace. Yet Prime Minister Turnbull dismissed it four months later, inventing a fiction that the enhanced participation of First Peoples in Australian liberal democracy amounted to a ‘third chamber’ of the parliament.' (Introduction)
'Hey ancestor, you talking to me?
'Country time everyday.
'I know, I know, but wouldn’t you know it, it’s the 26th of January again, old Whitefella Day.
'Party time for some, sad day for others.'
'Last night, following the tenth anniversary of the national Apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples, a former host of online rotational curation account IndigenousX made a personal post on Facebook. The former IndigenousX host resides in what is considered a remote part of Australia. It was a late hour, and it appeared in my newsfeed later still, a well-populated comment thread already trailing below it.' (Introduction)
'Thirty years ago, at Barunga in the Northern Territory, Prime Minister Bob Hawke promised a treaty. I was there, as director of the Central Land Council. We sat in the dust and had long discussions about how a treaty might take shape, what consultations would need to take place between the states and territories, the parliament and the First Nations people. The intentions for treaty were reinforced though cultural activities. Dances spoke of the history of the lack of recognition for First Nations people, and the significance of the intentions behind a treaty was complemented by the ancient traditions of songs and stories.' (Introduction)
'Nobody seemed quite capable of distinguishing John Noble from Jimmy Clements when the pair turned up for the royal opening of the new Commonwealth Parliament building in Canberra. It was Monday, 9 May 1927. And as far as European Australia was concerned, the original inhabitants of the Limestone Plains, upon which Canberra was imposed, were extinct – vanished.' (Introduction)
'Aboriginal Australians are a colonised people without a just and proper settlement having been negotiated over the last two hundred and forty years. This is indisputable. What has been at issue is the way in which Aboriginal people can achieve sovereignty, and the modern Australian democracy can decolonise. First we must take stock of the current situation in order to make meaningful steps forward.' (Introduction)
'Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders have just marked two hundred and thirty years of patience with displaced Europeans. We choose patience because we still see and feel white people’s humanity, despite their inhumanity directed at us daily. We choose patience because we know only together will we survive climate change. Like Bourke and Wills and other failed ‘explorers’ before them, today’s European-Australians choose to simultaneously ignore and exploit Aboriginal Peoples and our knowledges: they like Aboriginal art because they can consume and own it on Western neoliberal terms, but they don’t really like Aboriginal people in their homes. They like Aboriginal knowledge in universities (for example: astronomy, bush medicines, family kinship), but only if it builds white academics’ careers and, importantly, if it does not challenge the Western canon. This is otherwise known as white supremacy. We Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and our knowledges are usually only... ' (Introduction)
I grew up in the 1990s, the daughter of a white Australian and a Torres Strait Islander. I was raised on my mother’s stories of the Cairns Esplanade, her doctor father and English migrant mother. I learned the stories of generations of my British ancestors, as far back as the Battle of Hastings, who over the centuries would emigrate to Massachusetts, to Ohio, to Bermuda via the White House, to the Victorian goldfields, to Fitzroy in Melbourne, and to Sydney, where my grandfather was born. I grew up on stories of British settlers, of dispossessors, of those who wielded colonial power and benefited from it. And I was raised on my father’s stories, too. Stories of water, of fishing and of islands. Especially of the island that is ours, the one we don’t live on anymore, Naghir. I listened to the stories of how multiple generations of my Islander family navigated the arrival of the missionaries and the government to access education, to find work, to keep fishing, to stay free. I watched my father become the first Torres Strait Islander to receive a PhD. And, to be completely honest, I didn’t really hear all those stories about our family – I read some of them in his book. I think this is important to acknowledge: Indigenous people are not meant to write our own histories, we’re just meant to speak them. And we’re usually expected to speak them against a more powerful, white, narrative. But it was not ever like that for me. These were never stories told against one another. These were the stories that just told me who I was. In all, I grew up on stories both written and spoken, authored by both the dispossessed and their dispossessors. Some have told me that it’s almost like I grew up in two Australias, but I didn’t. I grew up in the same Australia as you. This is your Australia, too.' (Introduction)
'In 1985, I started a bachelor’s degree the month I turned seventeen. Despite a change of degree from social work to arts, I graduated from the University of Queensland with publication and research experience at twenty and became a permanent policy research officer in the Australian Public Service by twenty-one. In four years I had gone from a country Queensland school leaver to a public servant in the head office of Aboriginal Hostels Limited, producing research reports with strategic and operational impact on its accommodation and support services.' (Introduction)
'Organising government can be as important as policy. In his 2017 Wentworth Lecture to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Martin Parkinson noted that there had been eleven structures of Commonwealth Indigenous affairs administration under twenty-one ministers in the fifty years since the 1967 referendum. This, he argued, was ‘churn’ in the machinery of government, which impacted on ‘the transfer of knowledge and capability from one generation of public servants to the next’.' (Introduction)
'No one was surprised when, in 1977, the Western Australian Government put a blanket ban on its recently decommissioned Aboriginal archive and even threatened legal action against researchers. The archive was a ticking time bomb: the dutifully documented words in its files exposed for the first time the extent of despotic powers wielded by state governments over Aboriginal people during the twentieth century. Read in the present context they show how racism, denial of rights, segregation, incarceration and breaking up of families structured and institutionalised the Aboriginal problems of today. These words from the past speak directly to the Uluru Statement: they ‘tell plainly the structural nature of our problem…the torment of our powerlessness’.' (Introduction)
'As Jacqui Wandin gazes out over the rolling paddocks and scribbles of bushland, she can visualise the scene a century and a half ago, when the landscape was dotted with timber cottages, workshops, brick-making kilns, milking sheds, a sawmill, butchery, church and schoolhouse.' (Introduction)
'Griffith Review is not, according to its ‘Writers’ Guidelines’, an ‘academic journal’. This leads me to pause and consider how I can establish what I want to be the starting point for this essay, which is that Australia cannot ‘make peace and firmer ground for laws, policies and outcomes that improve Indigenous and non-Indigenous life’ unless it accepts the need for Indigenous peoples to exercise a high degree of autonomy and govern their own affairs.' (Introduction)
'The Turnbull Government's initial response to the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory highlights its failure to include northern Australia and other remote regions in the economic and social life of the nation. The commission’s findings paint a predictably grim story of the brutal practices inflicted on the children – overwhelmingly Aboriginal – who are held in the Northern Territory’s children’s prisons, as well as describing the failure of successive governments to respond to the social crisis that helps to explain the mass imprisonment of young Indigenous people. Yet the Turnbull government is so far refusing to support, with serious funding, the recommendations of the royal commission, which it established. It has ruled out contributing to the Northern Territory’s commitment to build two new child detention centres, arguing that it has adequate resources. This decision comes on top of the Commonwealth’s recent threat to abandon...' (Introduction)
'Alice Springs Town centre is surrounded by three prominent hills, each of them sacred to Central Arrernte people, the traditional owners of the area known as Mparntwe. All three hills have a place in this story. If you have visited Alice Springs, you have likely climbed or driven to the top of Atnelkentyarliweke (alternatively Untyeyetwelye) – known in English as Anzac Hill for its war memorial. From there you can see in every direction, across the rooftops of the town to the valleys and ranges beyond. The view is especially beautiful to the west, into the broad Larapinta Valley and up to the ranges that rise towards a peak known as Alhekulyele (Mount Gillen in English). It too is sacred, embodying the ancestral wild dog. It too has a place in this story about cultural recognition, aspired to but frequently foundering on ignorance and short-sightedness.' (Introduction)
'Five years ago, I was invited to participate in a global project on climate change. The aim was to engage 15-year-old students with the challenges posed by climate change and the increase of extreme weather events. The students would be asked to respond to the challenge through creativity, initially through an introduction to the science underpinning climate change. In the following 18 months, I visited schools in Ireland, England, Germany and Poland, and also worked with a group of students at Footscray City College in Melbourne. The project would culminate in an environmental youth summit at the International Literature Festival Berlin.' (Introduction)
'The adults stare hard, looks of panic rip through the crowd. A curiously dressed man in clinical white clothing follows the ball with a dancer’s grace. He turns quickly between two enormous poles, faces the ground, then raises both arms and sharply points his fingers to the field. It’s a goal. People shout in communal ecstasy, while others look away, distraught.' (Introduction)