High-profile Aboriginal rights activist and Euahlayi man Michael Anderson (Nyoongar Ghurradjong Murri Ghillar) spoke to SOFiA members via the magic of Zoom in September 2022. Michael was one of four men who established Australia’s Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972, and he’s been at various times a lecturer in Aboriginal Studies, a legal representative, an artist, a professional football player and grazier. He’s involved in promoting the sovereignty of Indigenous people worldwide.
Michael had an interesting perspective on the question of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. He explained that he was against the idea on the basis that it’s impossible to treat the various Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nations around the country as one group. He felt it was perpetuating colonialism to do so: the idea that Aboriginal people are all fundamentally the same is a persistent myth from Australia’s earliest days of white invasion. To afford Indigenous groups their proper respect it would be necessary to negotiate separately with each group.
Michael’s talk illustrated the complexities of dealing with Indigenous issues in Australia. Many Indigenous people support the idea of a Voice, but clearly there is no unanimity on this question. There were many, he suggested, at the First Nations National Constitutional Convention in May 2017 who did not support the Statement From the Heart or the idea of a Voice to Parliament.