My name is Matthew Ngamurarri Heffernan, Pintupi-Luritja man from Alice Springs but now living in Darwin, NT. I work in Indigenous Business Development with the NT government. I also am a supporter of the Recognise campaign in the NT and try and promote that as much as I can. Recognise is the national conversation about updating the Australian constitution to recognise our First Peoples and define equality for all Australians.
Well, I will be off to Perth for a few days to discuss the “Recognise This” youth campaign. I will be taking some pictures and will be talking about my views on why constitutional recognition is important for our people. I also try not to take myself too seriously; so expect a lot of irreverent material.
My mum and dad have probably been the most influential in role modelling an attitude of excellence and a basic sense of what’s right and wrong, I didn’t consider this such a massive contribution to my growth as a person until I realised that not many people are as fortunate to have parental figures who actually care.
My other role model is my uncle George Barrawanga: he told all of Australia – and posthumously is still telling Australia – to “Stand up, stand up and be counted”. Lastly, my friend and mentor Natalie Walker, who is an amazing woman, with an amazing mind and I believe a lot can be said about a person who has achieved lots but remains humble.
I believe the issues affecting Indigenous people are symptoms of a larger structural issue. That is, Indigenous peoples have over a steady period of two centuries have had our resources and way of life taken from us, attempts to ameliorate through establishments of missions and so on, failed to consider the strength of our people and didn’t plan for a sustainable longevity of these communities that developed.
Now I believe we’re seeing the vestiges in both Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people of this toxic system, which manifests in issues such as suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and so on.
I hope that our people will one day again realise self-determination– politically, economically and spiritually – and that all the statistics which that state “Indigenous people have it the worst” will be “Indigenous people have it the best”.