Day 1 - Impact keynote address: Things have got to change

Tuesday, 21 March 2017
Pat Anderson AO

2017 is a year of anniversaries: 50 years since the Referendum, 45 years since government recognition of our right to self-determination, 25 years since the Mabo decision, 20 years since Bringing Them Home, 10 years since the Intervention in the Northern Territory. These anniversaries chart the often troubled story of the relationship between us as First Peoples and non-Indigenous Australia. The continually changing policies and the sense that we are continually taking 'one step forward, one step back' point to the need to establish an enduring foundation for that relationship. Genuine constitutional change can be that foundation; a foundation that gets the nation state beyond the situation where we as First Peoples have to continually justify ourselves, our arguments, our organisations, and how we live. Once the firm foundations of genuine constitutional recognition are in place, we need to build the evidence-based policy that will address the burden of disadvantage that our First Nations continue to carry. We, as First Peoples need to direct the research that is critically important in building that evidence-base.