Many placards read – “History is calling.”
Sunday 17 September 2023 was a special day in Sydney. We took to the streets with tens of thousands of others in support of the October 14 referendum to recognise our First Peoples and enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in Australia’s Constitution.
We shot this little video that captures the wonderful atmosphere of the day.
We’re a company that celebrates history and Australian stories in their wondrous complexity. We’re also captivated by the incredible beauty of this huge ancient land.
Our deep dive into Australian history to create our Sydney tours and our sense of awe each time we gaze across this land, has given us plenty of opportunity to think about Australia’s First Peoples and their extraordinary 60,000 years of survival here before the massive disruption and loss of colonial invasion and dispossession of 1788.
We embrace this opportunity to finally, belatedly, recognise our First Peoples in the Constitution with the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. It’s been a very very long road.
The proposed act of recognition, inspired by something called the Uluru Statement from the heart, feels like essential infrastructure for the nation’s soul.
Last Sunday’s walk was even more special than our usual outings. We joined hundreds of thousands around the country in similar walks.
Although our tours are focused on Australian stories after the colonial invasion of 1788, we try to deliver a history that sheds light into places that have often been overlooked in the past.
The march kicked off at Redfern Park. Redfern is a Sydney suburb deeply connected with our Indigenous community.
Back in 1993, then Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating concluded a speech known as the Redfern address in this same park, with these words –
“There is one thing today we cannot imagine. We cannot imagine that the descendants of people whose genius and resilience maintained a culture here through fifty thousand years or more, through cataclysmic changes to the climate and environment, and who then survived two
centuries of disposession and abuse, will be denied their
place in the modern Australian nation. We cannot imagine that. We cannot imagine that we will fail”
In the same speech, Keating also pointed out –
“We simply cannot sweep injustice aside. Even if our own conscience allowed us to, I am sure, that in due course,
the world and the people of our region would not.
There should be no mistake about this, our success in resolving these issues will have a significant bearing on our standing in the world.”
“It begins, I think, with that act of recognition. Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion. It was our ignorance and our prejudice.”
When Keating spoke these truths in 1993, it was the first time they had been put in such stark terms. It was an important day and many hoped it mark a transformation in the country. Progress was interrupted by conservative election victories.
The Yes march wrapped up at Victoria Park with a performances from Dan Sultan and Missy Higgins. Love was in the air.
If a reading of history informs us about the need for something like The Voice to acknowledge Australia’s past and better address the disadvantage of the present, it also teaches us about the perennial presence of voices among us determined to fight for a status quo of injustice and disconnectedness with the past. These forces create fear and denigrate a just cause and its advocates. They’ve been active in our politics for two centuries. Their arguments are remarkably consistent and detached from historical and contemporary reality.
No matter what happens on 14 October, I will be grateful and better informed for the experience of hearing the advocacy of many proud Indigenous leaders and other great Australians in recent months.
One of the many extraordinary Indigenous Australians leading the Voice to Parliamentmovement is Western Australian Senator, Pat Dodson. This piece provides an extraordinary personal and political history of Dodson and the struggle for justice that has consumed his life.
Sunday 17 September 2023 was a special day in Sydney. We took to the streets with tens of thousands of others in support of the October 14 referendum to recognise our First Peoples and enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in Australia’s Constitution....more