In the past week, I have received two important documents.
An Indigenous family friend passed on a copy of Close the Gap Campaign Report 2021 - Leadership and Legacy Through Crises: Keeping Our Mob Safe prepared by the Lowitja Institute, while my mother-in-law gave me a copy of Fire Country by Indigenous land management expert Victor Steffensen.
The receipt of these was most timely.
In governance and public policy terms, I have been increasingly concerned about two major issues.
First, our continuing national and international national disgrace: our failure to have come to terms with the First Australians - to show them the respect and understanding they deserve, and address their persistent disadvantage.
This is the worst example of successive governments "kicking the can down the road", now for some 250 years.
As difficult as governments have made this issue over those years, I had great hopes that the Uluru Statement from the Heart - showing the way to the full implementation of a constitutional voice, treaty and truth-telling processes - would be the game changer, would provide the platform on which real progress could be made, and the matter settled.
In the past, it had been difficult to hope to achieve such a strong, broad-based agreement among Aboriginal leaders and communities.
The statement was therefore very significant and definitive, being the outcome of the most widespread and exhaustive consultation involving Aboriginal leaders and communities across the country, and at various levels.
It was, therefore, devastating to see how quickly the Turnbull government simply dismissed the statement, and how soon we saw fake debates initiated about "a voice", "third chamber" and the like.
A very real opportunity was lost. It is now hoped that this statement can be built on with the new national agreement on Closing the Gap, to ensure that the game is changed.
My second issue is my concern that our governments don't listen to experts, or recognise the science. How they downplay or ignore evidence-based policy, how they don't really learn from experience, how they don't plan or prepare for the future.
It means that they are mostly caught short when a crisis breaks.
How much did our governments learn from the last drought?
What did they do to improve the resilience, the drought resistance of our soils, to be better prepared for the next one.
Similarly, how much did they learn from the last disastrous bushfires to be better prepared for the next one?
So, too, with COVID - what have they learned to be better prepared for the next pandemic?
To pull my two issues together: not only is proper and complete recognition of the First Australians important and urgent, but there is so much for our nation to learn from them.
In the process of recognition, it is important that structures and processes are put in place to ensure our First Australians are heard, and that their exhaustive experience and expertise can be properly drawn on.
This is what the gap report seeks: "That Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing will be respected and understood."
Look at the Indigenous leadership shown in response to the pandemic.
They kept communities safe and rates of COVID-19 cases six times lower than the rest of the Australian population.
As the report also points out: "Behind these results is a story of how effective it is to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, organisations and communities, and to trust that they have the solutions".
They "understood the risks and worked tirelessly with ... governments to deliver collective, culturally appropriate and localised solutions".
Steffensen makes similar points concerning bushfires, emphasising the need to revive cultural burning practices, with an improved "reading" of country, to manage and restore our land.
He says his main concern is that "after these horrible fires have gone our government will overlook traditional fire knowledge once more, and give their current services open slather to do hazard reductions and land clearing ... maybe giving non-Indigenous agencies the funds to manage Aboriginal burning programs".
Steffenson calls for building "on the foundation of Aboriginal knowledge as the practical base to work from, and adding Western knowledge to support a stronger solution".
"Pulling all our expertises together to create the new wave of a human environmental evolution."
Surely, a prescription for a better, fairer and more prosperous Australia?
John Hewson is a professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU, and a former Liberal opposition leader.