Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the Gunaikurnai people, the traditional owners of the land known as the electorate of Monash. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
National Reconciliation Week gives us all an opportunity to play our part as we continue to try as a country to grapple with the mistakes of the past. Australia is shamed by the victimisation of our Indigenous peoples through the ongoing effects of colonisation. From the stolen generations to our system of democracy, numerous policies, interventions and commissions have failed to remedy entrenched disadvantage and social dislocation caused by the brutality of colonisation. We must face this squarely. We must acknowledge our past and ongoing role in the sufferings of First Nations peoples. Our communal responsibility is to build strong connections with our Indigenous communities, based on open communication and understanding. Imagine if the need for change were acknowledged and acted upon at a personal, community, state and national level. We could move mountains.
Our Indigenous peoples extended the hand of reconciliation when they gave us the generous Uluru Statement from the Heart. As a nation, we should show grace and embrace it. We need to humble ourselves and accept into our hearts and minds the wisdom of people who have lived on this land for more than 60,000 years. Reconciliation is defined as the restoration of friendly relations, and that is exactly what we as a nation and as individuals should be aiming for. As I have said before, including the voice of the First Nations people in national policy should be non-negotiable for the government. It is essential for national healing. What are we afraid of? Reconciliation is more than a word. It means nothing without action. This is just as I see it.