In today’s Elliott Johnston Tribute Lecture, Northern Territory Anti-discrimination Commissioner and Flinders graduate, Mr Eddie Cubillo (pictured) explains why Aboriginal self-determination should be a process and not an end it itself.
Drawing on the Federal Government intervention in the Northern Territory, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Mr Cubillo makes a plea for “respectful engagement” to create a better future for all Australians.
“What contributes to understanding and what is generally lacking in the broader community is a genuine engagement between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people,” Mr Cubillo said.
“Such engagement requires leadership and is a process that can be undermined by political partisanship or sectional interests,” he said.
Mr Cubillo is concerned about the perception that Aboriginal sovereignty is an end in itself.
“Real engagement is moving towards self-determination, which may result in a treaty of some description,” he said.
“But it is the process that is important – for Indigenous Australians to be included in discussions, our opinions need to be valued and there needs to be a real commitment to one another.”
He cites the Intervention as an example of how a positive measure has the potential to fail without leadership.
“At present, no one up north knows where we’re going with the intervention and it ceases in 2012,” he said.
“We really need to make hard decisions about how the future of Northern Territorians will look.
“We need to talk.”
The Elliott Johnston Tribute Lecture is presented by Flinders Law School and Yunggorendi, First Nations Centre for Higher Education and Research.