Being heard helps

FIONA STANLEY is a living legend of WA; having been such a force in our health system, they named a hospital after her. In this THINKING ALLOWED, the Fremantle resident says why she supports the local council’s decision to spend $35,000 promoting the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

I WOULD like to  congratulate the Fremantle council for its stance on supporting the Uluru Statement from the Heart. 

Those who attended the One Day event and had the privilege of hearing Thomas Mayor speak would now all understand why the Uluru statement is so important for all Australians.

I was also pleased to see that they have proposed spending $35,500 to educate Fremantle folk on the importance of voting YES in the upcoming referendum.  

The council has responded to the request of the local elders who realise how exciting this opportunity is, not just for them but for all of us.

Many Australians may not appreciate just how powerful having a voice will be to improve the outcomes for our First Nations people.  

I have been working in Aboriginal health and wellbeing for over 40 years. 

This work has involved training and mentoring an outstanding group of Aboriginal researchers. 

Their research has shown time and time again that when First Nations people have a voice, the outcomes of the services, policies and practices (in health, education, child protection, mental health and juvenile justice) are much better than when these are implemented by white bureaucrats, who 

are unaware of the ways of doing in Aboriginal families and communities (The current situation in Banksia detention centre is a very anguishing example).

The most exciting example of this was how well the Aboriginal people, all over the nation, managed the Covid pandemic. 

Few people know that throughout 2021, there were six times fewer Covid cases amongst Indigenous Australians than non-Indigenous, no deaths, no cases in remote communities and no cases after the Black Lives Matter marches!

It was actually the best result in the world, from a population in whom we were expecting disastrous results as was seen in other Indigenous populations internationally. 

How did this happen? 

At every level of government and into communities, Aboriginal people had a voice, were at the table, were implementing their own solutions to prevent infections and reduce risks. 

Of course there are now many Aboriginal health professionals, fully trained and aware of what they had to do to protect their people. 

From the Head of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation, Pat Turner, right down to state governments and local community groups, they put in place the best response in the world. 

If ever there was evidence of a voice, this is it!  

It was a complete reversal of the gap!  

However, when the federal government did not respond to requests for vaccines in high risk populations and opened communities up too soon, then the number of cases and deaths rose.  

When their voice was taken away, the results were as expected – unacceptable, preventable deaths.

I urge you all to support the Fremantle council in its commitment to a voice. 

Even if you don’t care about the humane side of this debate, it is much more cost-effective to have an Aboriginal voice influencing expenditure on Aboriginal services, because they will actually work.  

Let us stop the waste of funds and give our First Nations the voice that they have fought for over many decades and which they deserve.

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