"It misses something big, something massive," the fight for Indigenious recognition

Julia Bennison, Leanne Stanley, Cass Goodwin, Joyce Williams, Tjanara Talbot
Julia Bennison, Leanne Stanley, Cass Goodwin, Joyce Williams, Tjanara Talbot

A Wellington and Wiradjuri woman Tjanara Talbot says young people like herself can help drive recognition for Indigenous people by gaining strength from the past.

"My grandparents are very strong and this is where I get my motivation," she said.

"This is important for us to educate ourselves. This whole journey means a lot to me."

Ms Talbot was speaking to a crowd of about 30 during a 'RECOGNISE' event at the Wellington Civic Centre.

Ms Talbot and two other young Indigenous people are travelling the nation and leading the debate about how the first people of Australia should be recognised in the constitution.

The federal government is yet to come to decision about when a referendum or plebiscite will be held and how the questions will be framed for it. 

It is leaving that up to a council which is made up of the biggest legal minds in the country.

Aunty Joyce Williams in her 'Welcome to Country' said she had fought hard for Indigenous awareness.

"Recognition for our people is something I have struggled for all my life," she said.

"I am honoured to have the opportunity to share this with you today.''

Mrs Williams said she was pleased young people were leading the fight for recognition and at 89 she could be there to hear their views.

Cass Goodwin said the current constitution had let down the Aboriginal people.

"It misses something big, something massive," she said.

"It misses 50,000 years of our history. Our people, our culture, there was an economy going on here then."

She added there were still clauses in the constitution which were based on racial discrimination.

"There is a cloud over my head," she said. "How can governments pick who can vote and put other voters aside?

"The constitution allows the government to create laws against races. It should benefit and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people."

Ms Goodwin's mother was a female Justice of the Peace in NSW and she said drawing upon the strength of her ancestors and elders who got her the right to vote, was pushing her to create this awareness. To correct the failings of the past. 

Now she said it was time for change.

"It is racist. It has racist elements, but if we can't get concerned and work together within our mob, it's not worth doing," Ms Goodwin said.

Brewarrina woman Bindi Frail said things such as lighthouses and beacons were recognised in the Australian constitution, but not its first people.

"Sometimes many wrongs have to be rewritten," she said.

"I am proud to be part of a rich culture. There has to be justice for Aboriginal people to be recognised in the constitution."

Cass Goodwin asked young people to stand up and support the push for recognition.

"This has to be a 100 per cent conversation," she said.

"Young people need to be active. This is your right. The elders and ancestors fought a lot harder than me and us, and I am doing this for them."

Ms Talbot said the ignorance of the first people distressed her and the world-travelled young woman said in other countries her culture was recognised as a flora and fauna, and not about human beings.

"The questions that people ask me about our culture and identity make me very upset," she said. "They are questions like why we are treated this way in our own country."


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