Nolan Hunter: We need to heal
On Thursday 23 February, Nolan Hunter, CEO of the Kimberley Land Council in Western Australia spoke with Christian Porter MP, Andrew Forrest AO and Ben Wyatt MLA at the University Club of WA. They met to discuss The Forgotten People, edited by Shireen Morris and Damien Freeman. Mr Hunter had recently come from the Broome regional dialogue, facilitated by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. At the evening, Mr Hunter had this to say to the audience:
"When you think about the Apology in 2009, and reflecting on the things Government has done for us, it doesn't amount to change. Statistically, in Australia, we're nowhere near where we need to be. Something needs to change.
"When I think about the arguments for and against constitutional recognition, I think we shouldn't just aim to get to a position where there are winners and losers (depending on your perspective). To cut a long story short, at the Broome forum: once people understood the issues they didn't have to decide if they were for or against the proposals. The old people were very angry. They didn't need to understand the details and the complexities. It was possible just to go to the core principle of the issue: what is the relationship between Australia and its Indigenous peoples? And how do we heal it?
"I have to say to my mob sometimes: this isn't just about us being angry. Reflecting on the question of sovereignty, there's no question about it: no one is going to get on a boat and leave Australia. And a lot of Indigenous people are so bound up in anger. But we have to be one community: Indigenous and non-Indigenous. We are one community. There is one Australia. We are all Australian.
"The concern of Australia is to find a solution. I support Noel Pearson's proposal for a Parliamentary advisory body, which is the only one that could implement Indigenous peoples’ rights to be properly consulted where government laws affect our interests. In as much as that proposal goes it's about the compromise that must be struck. This nation, with its history, needs to heal.
"The answer to this problem needs to be created by the white Australian government and community, but it needs to be practical. So the notion of symbolism concerns our mob; a minimalist change; if you're going to do something with the constitution, it can't be something that lacks the ability to create change. We need to seek that outcome. Something needs to change because, as a nation, we need to heal."