Many Australians look at the political landscape in the United States and find themselves in disbelief in regard to their position on gun control. Despite repeated mass shootings, gun laws have not altered. You can only make sense of this madness when you understand guns in the US are a symbol of individual liberty.

In many ways, every country has its own particular weirdness. For Australia, it is our Indigenous history. I can only imagine how other countries interpret our once long-held stance on terra nullius; meaning this land was legally ‘no man’s land’ when Cook and Banks arrived in 1770. Failing to recognise Aboriginal people as the first owners of this land would seem, to outsiders, to be weird rather than a point of discord.

An American observing this, perhaps even while carrying a gun, would be entitled to be somewhat confused. Theirs is also a dark history, one that encompasses indigenous dispossession, slavery and segregation. It is, however, a history they can hardly be accused of denying in the way Australia sometimes does. Americans seem more comfortable with recognising the scars of their past.

Australia is a blessed country. Our climate, our land, our people, our institutions rightly make us the envy of the world; except for one thing, we have never fully made peace with the First Australians. There has, however, been small steps in recent years.

Major events commence with an Acknowledgement of Country, while Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week are now significant events in our calendar. Sporting teams wear Indigenous jerseys as a sign of respect. Our new Prime Minister’s first words to the Australian people in his victory speech, after acknowledging the traditional owners of the land where he stood, was to promise that his Government will commit “in full” to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. 

Broadly, the Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for constitutional change and meaningful, structural reforms based on justice and self-determination for Indigenous peoples. It calls for a First Nations voice to parliament enshrined in the constitution, giving the right for Indigenous people to advise on legislation concerning them, by way of their elected body.

Last September, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge publicly endorsed the Uluru Statement. Last week, Pope Francis, also endorsed the Statement following a meeting with Gweagal woman Theresa Ardler who presented him with a copy of the Statement.

Australians are more than ready for the discussion about a First Nation’s voice in Parliament. The challenge for our boys is to ensure they are informed in order to engage in debate and, regardless of their political persuasions, make a decision in the best interest of all Australians.

Our future reinforces that reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, in the knowledge that we believe in fairness for everyone, that our diversity makes us richer, and that together, we are stronger.