As you might know, I am a really strong supporter of the “Yes” campaign in the upcoming referendum. With less than three weeks to go, I would like to make a bold prediction: My prediction is that whatever the outcome, the real conversation about our relationship with Aboriginal Australians has begun.
This conversation will not end with the vote, but will continue unabated and, I’m sure, magnified. Indeed, the truth-telling has now also began and that will not go away either. Too many people have started listening to the stories of what has happened over the past 235 years. An ever increasing number of Australians feel they can no longer turn a blind eye to the past.
This truth-telling is painful, but not knowing is surely worse. Wallowing in ignorance only serves to undermine our future. I think truth-telling will undoubtedly shape our collective discussions and indeed the nation itself.
Interestingly, what this referendum is bringing out is that people on all sides of the debate do care about what is happening to our Indigenous brothers and sisters. This seems undeniable – both sides talk of the hardship and suffering which haunt Indigenous people. Both sides do want change.
So regardless of what happens in the referendum, be prepared for even more difficult and painful conversations to arise after the vote. My prayer is that eventually a more mature Australia will emerge. Right now that might seem some way over the horizon – a bit out of view – but make no mistake the change is coming.