This week, in celebration of NAIDOC Week 2020, GPT was thrilled to welcome Stan Grant, award-winning current affairs journalist with over 30 years in his field, a proud Wiradjuri man, a First Nations Leader and an informed voice on the topic of constitutional recognition.
The session, which was hosted by GPT’s CEO, Bob Johnston, reflected this year’s theme for NAIDOC week, “Always was. Always will be”. Introducing Grant to GPT staff, Mr Johnston said: “We have asked Stan to speak about the impact constitutional recognition would have for indigenous people and Australia, the role of Corporate Australia in these conversations, and what each of us individually can do to continue exploring this important topic.”
First Nations people have occupied and cared for the Australian continent for over 65,000 years, and despite this fact, our constitution does not currently recognise this history.
In his address, Grant said: “The Western idea is the idea of progress. Settler nations are built on the idea we can reinvent ourselves; we can leave our past behind. Australia is built on this idea. That we can park our past somewhere else. But what is often overlooked, is that for much of the world, history defines us. History goes hand in hand with identity. Our history forms our view of ourselves, and our place in the world. History is the poison in the blood of identity.
“Aboriginals were the product and victims of war; war that forced us from our land. We were moved to mission after mission. And our parents lived a poor, itinerant, transient life moving from one poor town to another. By the time I left high school, I’d been to 17-18 schools. I had no continuity of education at all. We lived in poverty and uncertainty because of our history, and these things leave a deep, deep scar. And this was meant to be ‘the lucky country’.”
“Australia is at the cross hairs of this historical moment; how do we tell the truth without it poising us? How do we bring justice to our history?”
As part of GPT’s commitment to reconciliation our RAP Working Group has been leading the ‘From the Heart’ campaign so we all have a deeper understanding of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, what this means for us as individuals, what it means for First Nations people and for our Country. And importantly why treaty and acknowledgement of indigenous sovereignty in the constitution is important.
“There must be a chance for people to have a voice, and focal to that is an indigenous voice in our constitution. So we can tell our truth. And so that we can come together, so that people can tell the truth and hopefully that will set people free, and allow us to avoid our mistakes from the past,” said Grant. “Until then, we are still a country that lives in the bitterness of its own history. If we do not deal with these things, if we do not set ourselves free, we will condemn ourselves over and over again.”