Community & Purpose
Sparking conversation about voice, treaty and truth
“It's a way of coming together. It’s what we need. And having it enshrined in our constitution makes sense. It’s going to agitate change and it's happening already just by having those conversations.”
My story starts four years ago when I was in year 12.
Sitting in a South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy class the teacher said, “We will be writing an assignment on something you think is going to make a difference – have a think about what you want to do.”
I was absolutely lost. I spent a week researching various things I was interested relating to Indigenous Australia and cultural identity.
Through my research I discovered the Uluru Statement from the Heart - I read it, re-read it and re-read it again. It was so inspirational, I was compelled by the three pillars – voice, treaty, and truth - it really resonated with me.
What does the Uluru Statement mean?
The Uluru Statement is an invitation from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to “walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”.
It represents a historic consensus of Indigenous leaders in seeking Indigenous constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament and a Makarrata Commission to oversee treaty-making and truth-telling.
The central point underpinning Indigenous constitutional recognition is that it must be both symbolically powerful and make a practical change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in communities. A Voice is needed to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a real say in the laws and policies that impact on them.
It is a historic opportunity for a national unifying moment.
My dad is Indigenous and mother is non-Indigenous, so I feel like I walk in two worlds. I hear both sides. I grew up knowing I was Aboriginal however I had no cultural connection. I felt a sense of not having an identity and wasn’t sure where I belonged.
I have grown up seeing the outcomes of atrocities committed on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and hearing their mistreatment through history. When I read the Uluru Statement I thought, wouldn't it be good to start hearing stories of coming together and healing? It’s a way for people to move forward, it is a story of healing.
For me, the Uluru Statement represents culture and identity.
From the heart
From the Heart is a campaign for an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament that is enshrined in the Constitution. This would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives.
It gives the Australian Government the opportunity to make policies with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rather than for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The question that sparked my journey
Now, three years on from that day in class and the question that sparked my journey, I am fortunate to be able to continue my support of the campaign and work in an organisation that supports its people to speak up and have respectful conversations.
When I was in high school, I was successful in obtaining a traineeship through ANZ to which I am still extremely grateful for. It has opened many doors for me in my career and has provided me with immense personal growth.
Ngarga Wanggadja means “mob talking” in the language of the Nurungga people and was the name chosen for the employee reference group formed to represent the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees at ANZ.
Conceived and created by employees, Ngarga Wangaddja consults to ANZ on matters that apply exclusively to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees, including:
- issues or decisions that impact on identity or experience
- role scope
- cultural safety and concepts of wellbeing
- a person’s existence as an Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander employee at ANZ
Ngarga Wangaddja is formal part of ANZ’s RAP Governance Structure.
I have also recently been involved in Ngarga Wangaddja which has broadened my perspective on how ANZ implements changes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees while ensuring it’s culturally safe at the same time.
I think it’s a fantastic initiative that allows employees to be involved in conversations about ANZ’s Reconciliation Action Plan and other matters that directly relate to being a First Nations ANZ employee.
There is still a large disparity in financial literacy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians, so I would love to see more efforts to close that gap within the Australian community to enrich the lives and financial wellbeing of many people and create a world where people and communities thrive.
Having a voice
I was so moved by the Uluru Statement that I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister. I felt empowered by writing that letter. And other people can do so as well by writing to their local MP or the Prime Minister - it’s all about having a voice.
I was honoured to be invited by Dean Parkin, Director of From the Heart, to join him in Canberra for the From the Heart conference on a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament in March 2021, held at the National Museum of Australia. It was very inspiring to see there is a movement of people - we had a presence and we got people talking.
These conversations need to happen. There is a division. As I said, I've grown up in both worlds, I know what it feels like. We can come together using the Uluru Statement.
Porsha O'Brien 1 from IBCreative.agency on Vimeo.
There is a chance for us to have a voice. There is a chance for young people like me, to be able to talk about what's happening in the community, be able to talk and then have that escalated so it doesn't fall on deaf ears.
That's what I've experienced and it’s why I am a big supporter of the Uluru Statement.
It's a way of coming together. It’s what we need. And having it enshrined in our constitution makes sense. It’s going to agitate change and it's happening already just by having those conversations.
Porsha O’Brien is a proud Wuthathi woman and Customer Care Officer at ANZ
ANZ accepts the invitation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and supports a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian Constitution.
Saying yes paves the way to a bright future