I’ve been trying to reconcile an Australia where tens of thousands of people at the AFL finals cheered wildly for the Indigenous elders delivering Welcomes to Country, and an Australia that has voted No to the constitutionally enshrined Voice that most elders wanted.
As further evidenced by almost 70 per cent initial support for the Voice, most Australians value our Indigenous heritage and want better outcomes for First Nations people. But, as a nation, we’re very reluctant to change our Constitution.
This is not to say there isn’t racism in Australia. There is. Rather, with Labor having a record of one success from 27 attempts to change the Constitution, there may be less fraught ways of addressing it.
I supported the Voice because it is what most First Nations leaders said would make a difference, and because so much trust went into the Uluru process started by the Turnbull government.
But, history shows that most Australians view our Constitution as serving our country well, which makes it easy to undermine proposed changes, and impossible to succeed, without bipartisan support.
The passion and hard work that so many people put into the Voice now needs to find other pathways to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.
The outpouring of support at the AFL finals suggests there may be more allies available in this effort than it might feel like, today.
This article also appeared in The West Australian newspaper.