Mark Yettica-Paulson’s dream for indigenous recognition
BY:PATRICIA KARVELAS From: The Australian August 29, 2013 12:00AM
FIFTY years after Martin Luther King Junior proclaimed “I have a dream”, one of Australia’s emerging indigenous leaders last night used the anniversary to proclaim his own dream for the formal recognition of his people in the constitution.
One of the activists behind the indigenous recognition movement, Mark Yettica-Paulson, told the audience in Melbourne that five decades on Dr King’s speech remained a powerful moment that taught us about inspiration.
“Australia has it’s own such stories of courage and commitment . . . We ought be to inspired by these great Australians who stood up for what was right, and committed themselves, their families, careers and communities to make change possible,” Mr Yettica-Paulson said.
“I see a nation not ashamed of it’s past and not afraid of it’s future,” Mr Yettica-Paulson said. “Not mired in denial and forgetfulness, but free at last to celebrate and commemorate both the good and bad in its history. Where we have woven together the different chapters of our nation’s past to write an even stronger national story.”
He said while Australia prides itself on being a place of fairness our Constitution still does not recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were here in 1788, and for tens of thousands of years before that.
The anniversary comes as Australia faces its own moment in history to recognise the long and impressive first chapter of our national story, and banish the lingering stain of discrimination from our Constitution.
“It is our big dreaming that enables us to take possession of the powerful moment coming. Our powerful moment is when we vote on constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In that moment we enter into the next chapter of our Nation’s Story,” Mr Yettica-Paulson said.
“We know the vast majority of Australians share this dream of a better future. Yet there will be some voices against our big dreaming. There were some voices against Dr King’s. There may be different opinions on the best path to pursue here and the best form of words.
“It is not my intent or desire to invalidate other views. But I want to explain firmly my own. I want to declare why I fervently believe that our own quest for recognition in the highest law of our land is a goal worthy of our energy and our passion.”
He said that changing the constitution would not bring an end to all suffering and pain.
“It does not guarantee the disappearance of racism and mean-spirited behaviour. It will not heal the world and eradicate poverty.
“But it will be a light on a hill. It will be a navigating star. It will be like a gravitational pull to centre us when we feel like we are unsure and uncertain of the ways ahead. It is a powerful narrative that captivates us while the messy political reality remains as our daily work.
“There is no illusion that magical powers will turn Australia into a land of sweetness and roses. Division will remain. Uncertainty will remain. Hostility and lack of hope will remain. Our big dreaming will serve to orientate us to what is important for us, what inspires us and what defines our identity.”
Mr Yettica-Paulson told the audience that “our powerful moment is upon us”.
“The weekend after next we will head to the ballot box to vote. And my confidence is growing that the next time we enter those federal polling booths as Australians, it will be for our chance to vote yes to recognition, and to write in the missing first chapter of our national story to our nation’s founding document.”
“We will be voting on Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The choice will be simple. Will we make the decision to give life to Our Big Dreaming and to truly live together in this land?
“Or will we as Australians reject the call of history for us to put this right? To me, this is so clearly the right thing for our nation to do.”