As I was driving today, listening to the radio, a well-known non-Aboriginal commentator admitted he could name many great Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander football players. “But I have to say, I need to go back and learn a lot more about important, historic indigenous issues.”
The commentator’s honest reflection came on this weekend’s AFL’s Sir Doug Nicholls Indigenous Round, which celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players and culture.
As the commentator, who is the same age as I spoke, I was struck afresh by how much more I need to listen and learn. Of how much I don’t know, and should.
And I was reminded of our new Prime Minister’s words, as last night he committed his government to supporting the Uluṟu Statement From The Heart in full.
The Uluru Statement presents as a challenging invitation. But it is also a beautiful one. The invitation to journey together towards genuine reconciliation.
The Statement invites all of us, from many different non-Aboriginal cultures, to walk together with First Nations peoples in a movement of Australians for a better future.
It asks Australians to walk together and establish a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, and the creation of a Makarrata Commission, for the purpose of treaty making and truth-telling.
Our new Prime Minister knows that this will not be an easy path to walk down. It will take courage.
The path will be marked by challenge and opportunity. And Australians, including our elected Federal members, will need to move beyond their comfort zones and innate prejudices, if we are to see the reconciliation the Uluru Statement envisages.
We can all humbly play our part in seeing the statement’s core features implemented. It will mean embracing change. It will mean we need to have some tough and truthful conversations as a nation.
But we can take our cue from a humble and honest footy commentator and take intentional steps to listen and learn. We can choose to intentionally walk alongside First Nations peoples and hear with fresh ears the Uluru invitation.
We can start this week by exploring https://ulurustatement.org.
And we can take a practical step. We can write to our newly elected or re-elected Federal Member of Parliament to express our support for the implementation of the Statement.
And if you’re a praying person then you can join me and pray that our 47th Federal Parliament will be an historic, reconciling parliament. One that will choose unity over division. One that will come together to work out things that for too long have been seen as too hard.
Yes, the Uluru Statement from the Heart is challenging.
But it’s also a beautiful invitation to embrace a new future for our nation.