In the spirit of reconciliation, I wish all Australians a happy NAIDOC week for 2022.
This year's theme, Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up! captures the heart and soul of NAIDOC week. It's a powerful call for action to create a better future for First Nations peoples.
Every generation of Australians has a chance to seize the opportunity to steer our country in the direction of progress.
I was reminded of this at this year's NAIDOC Awards. Ash Barty, Lance Franklin, Uncle Jack Charles were just a few outstanding First Nations people recognised at the awards.
I had the great honour of awarding along with my dear friend Dr Lynette Riley, the Lifetime achievement award to Dr Stan Grant Snr.
Stan is one of the few people still living to have heard native speakers of his nation's Wiradjuri language. Stan helped restore the Wiradjuri language, passing it down to future generations.
Stan is the embodiment of this year's NAIDOC theme and I encourage everyone to think about how they can get up, stand up and show up, in particular, for reconciliation.
It's often said that reconciliation is not a destination, it's a journey. A journey that all Australians must walk together.
The next leg of that journey must ensure the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are heard and our views and ideas are represented on issues which impact them.
More than five years ago, 230 First Nations people met at Uluru at the National Constitutional Convention - it's where Uluru Statement from the Heart was born.
It is a generous and inclusive offer for all Australians to build a more reconciled future together.
It also calls for a First Nations Voice to the Parliament.
Enshrinement of a First Nations Voice is both symbolic and also very pragmatic.
It is symbolic as it includes First Nations in the founding document of our country. It addresses the injustice of past exclusion, and provides healing for the future.
It is pragmatic as there is currently no systematic process for First Nations people to provide advice to the Australian parliament or government.
Politicians in Canberra would need to listen to First Nations people across the country - and to consider our diverse views and experience before making policies that affect them.
More of the same isn't good enough.
A Voice to Parliament is a change that will lead to better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Who else has a better understanding of the challenges facing their communities?
Policy solutions designed and implemented in close consultation of local communities has the greatest chance of success.
A Voice to Parliament enshrined in our constitution, is an idea whose time has come, and I am confident that Australians will support this modest but meaningful change.
The Prime Minister has said "together we can embrace the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We can answer its patient, gracious call for a voice enshrined in our constitution. Because all of us ought to be proud that among our great multicultural society we count the oldest living continuous culture in the world".
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for real change, and everyone has a part to play from community groups, footy clubs, schools and small businesses.
That is what happened 55 years ago. In lead-up to the 1967 referendum, Australians came together and decided to work for change. The result was the most overwhelming 'yes' vote in a referendum in Australia.
It made this country a better place for all Australians.
Fifty-five years later, a new generation of Australians must answer the call and steer our country to a better future.
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