The Politics    Monday, October 23, 2023

An open letter

By Rachel Withers

header: Statement for our people and country

Image via X

All Australians should read this statement from Indigenous leaders, regardless of how they voted

Have you read the letter? Not one of the many articles summarising it, or analysing which bits were taken out in the drafting process, interesting as this information may be. The letter itself, three pages, 12 points, addressed to the prime minister and all federal parliamentarians, unsigned but described as being the “collective insights and views of a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, community members and organisations who supported ‘Yes’.” The leaders who were until last night engaged in a week of silence. To be fair, if you are not on social media, you may not have seen the full thing. Already, Senate estimates has engaged in a round of bickering, as Coalition senators complain about not having personally received it, as if they could not easily get their hands on a copy. If you haven’t, go read it now – I have linked to it below. After voting against the gracious request laid out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart – a one-page statement most Australians didn’t even bother to read – reading this statement is the least we can do.

A Statement for Our People and Country.

There is little I can add to this searing, stunning open letter, lest I be guilty of trying to summarise it myself. But it is rather unfortunate that the people who most need to read it are the people least likely to do so. As the letter states: “The truth is that the majority of Australians have committed a shameful act whether knowingly or not”. Indeed, much of the country seems blissfully unaware of what they have done, happy to ignore the pain they have inflicted – and much of the media seems happy to let them.

A Statement for Our People and Country.

After a week of listening to non-Indigenous politicians and commentators discuss the meaning of the referendum outcome, will Australians read this letter? It doesn’t seem likely. Already, The Daily Telegraph has run a poll of its readers, declaring that 95 per cent have “rejected” the open letter – it’s unclear how many of those voters would have read the letter in full, without finding it on social media. After all, if you learnt of it via The Tele, you’d be led to believe that Indigenous leaders had attacked “No” voters, accusing them of racism. Why bother reading it?

A Statement for Our People and Country.

Those who are unwilling to read it, unwilling to take five minutes out of their day to hear what the mouse has to say to the elephant, may want to think about why.

A Statement for Our People and Country.

Rachel Withers

Rachel Withers is the contributing editor of The Politics.


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