For National Reconciliation Week 2023, we asked palawa woman Maggie Blanden what she wants for the future. This is her response.
First and foremost, we need a treaty in this country, whether that is a national treaty or individual state treaties. This is non-negotiable. The settler law of this country must unequivocally reflect the overwhelming truth that our sovereignty was never ceded. So-called Australia’s sovereign foundations are illegitimate without acknowledging this truth through treaty. We are currently witnessing significant strides taken in Victoria’s treaty process. Similarly, we should all be encouraged by the progress seen in Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory and the ACT towards treaty. I hope my island home, Lutruwita, follows closely behind.
Our future involves serious reform and transformation of the criminal justice system through justice reinvestment. Through this, we will see the shackles of oppressive prison and policing systems dismantled. We know that this begins with community-controlled solutions to address and tackle the very system that is structured against our people. Currently, we are the most incarcerated peoples in the world, with our women and girls rapidly becoming the fastest growing proportions of Australia’s prison populations. Our youth are also disproportionately imprisoned within the shackles of this racist and oppressive system. We know that this is because of the systemic biases and structured racism entrenched in the criminal justice system.
We need our babies and children returned to their families and their communities. We are currently witnessing a second Stolen Generation, and we must not be complacent and let this continue. We need a system that genuinely allows for our self-determination and Indigenous decision-making. We know our babies are better off when they are connected to Country, culture and family. Our babies' health, wellbeing and education (to name only a few) benefit from this connection. We must see genuine reform away from the settler colonial child protection system that seeks to dispossess, marginalise and continue cycles of intergenerational trauma. I am proud of the work my own mother and aunty do in this area, and their tireless and relenting passion for Blak children returning to Blak homes.
We know our communities thrive when our Blak women are strong, healthy and empowered. Our Blak women’s unwavering dedication to nurturing and caring for our children, Elders and those with complex needs is unparalleled. We know that it is because of the tireless efforts of our matriarchs that we stand strong and resilient today. Thus, from desert to saltwater Country, we must ensure our women’s voices are heard, valued and uplifted. We need our Blak women at the table in decision-making. Blak women’s perspectives, wisdom and experiences, deeply rooted in tiddaism, are essential in shaping a Blak future that respects and honours our people. My own matriarch, Granny Ida West, paved the way for Blak women in this country, and I hope this legacy continues.
Our future is healthy, vibrant and powerful. We will have land returned and our cultural heritage protected. We will be healing Country after hundreds of years of destruction and desecration of our sacred and ancient lands. Through harnessing our ancestral knowledges and practices, we will fight for the return to sustainable land management, renewable energy projects and cultural preservation to combat the climate crisis. In the future, I also see our languages revitalised and spoken freely, openly and proudly. I also hope for true and genuine ownership and control over our knowledges, stories and laws. We know that our physical, emotional, cultural and spiritual health will only improve when this becomes our reality.
I know that my old’s wished this for our Blak future, and I will campaign until this becomes our reality.
wulika and nayri-nina-tu,