Five Questions with Tim Goodwin

Tim Goodwin was Indigenous X host from September 20 to September 27, 2013.

Five questions to Tim

I’m Tim, the son of an Aboriginal woman and non-Aboriginal man. I’m a Yuin man from the South Coast of New South Wales, like my grandfather, who grew up at a mission at Wallaga Lake. My grandmother was a Wiradjuri woman who grew up at a mission at Narrandera. Both of them moved to Sydney and raised their children primarily just “off the mish” at La Perouse. My dad grew up in Adelaide and joined the Army when he was 17. He met my mum while he was stationed in Sydney.

When I was very young, my Dad was posted to Canberra, which is where I grew up and stayed to study at university at the Australian National University. I moved to Melbourne after graduating and currently work there as a lawyer. I took 12 months off two years ago to study my master of laws at Harvard Law School. I’ve kept involved in Indigenous community affairs throughout my life, particularly in supporting and developing Indigenous youth leadership.

Twitter is such a unique public communication tool. Both a lot and not much can be said in 140 characters – it all depends on how you use the platform and what you want to convey. Rather than attempt to set out my position on issues that deserve a treatise and not a soundbite, I hope to point followers towards interesting people and opinions discussing current local and global Indigenous issues. I’m interested in using the account as a catalyst for people to think about other opinions that they might not have had access to but for Twitter.
My family are extremely important to me. My grandfather taught art to Indigenous prisoners. My father served this country in uniform. My mother serves on the ACT Indigenous Elected Body. My sister works for the Communities team at Qantas, playing her part to assist corporate Australia to work in partnership with our people. Each of them have only been privately, and not publicly, celebrated.

I have been mentored by so many Indigenous and non-Indigenous heroes, young and old. In particular, Mick Dodson and Larissa Behrendt have inspired and supported me as fellow Indigenous lawyers. Their legacy is not only in their vast and important achievements for our people, but in their close attention to the generations behind them. I must especially mention Tanya Hosch, deputy director of the Recognise campaign. To put it simply, without her I would not know what I know, I would not have done what I have done, and I would not have achieved whatever I have achieved.

It’s impossible to provide a single issue as an answer to the question. Indigenous Australians are not a homogenous group. We all face different issues in our communities depending on our circumstances. Indigenous affairs is not a checklist. However, at the same time, it frustrates me when people state that we can’t consider nation-building exercises, such as Indigenous constitutional recognition, until we deal with issues such as health, education and employment. All people are capable of multi-tasking! All of these issues go hand-in-hand.

One issue binds many of the others. We as Indigenous peoples need to reframe our relationship with government. There is no coherent policy regulating the method by which government interacts with and intervenes in Indigenous communities. Government policy eventually ends up being ad hoc. Whatever we call those principles – whether it be self-determination or through the negotiation of a treaty – getting the relationship right, beyond partisan politics, is essential in seeking to end Indigenous disadvantage.

To have fulfilled that great promise made by Paul Keating in Redfern Park 21 years ago: to give meaning to justice and equity in this country.

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