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Campaigning for the justice and rights of Indigenous Australians

2 December 2019
Preparing for the landmark 2020 National Treaties Summit
Master of Development Studies student Luckylyn Wallace discusses her role in the nationwide campaign for treaty with our First Nations Peoples.
Luckylyn Wallace

Luckylyn Wallace at ANTaR HQ, Sydney.

As part of the Master of Development Studies, Luckylyn Wallace has spent the last 3 months on work placement with Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR), an organisation that campaigns for the justice, rights, and respect for First Nations Australians.

ANTaR's current Treaty campaign is calling on the Federal Parliament to step up and take responsibility for entering into a treaty with First Nations Peoples. The campaign is in line with the wishes articulated by Indigenous Australians in the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for a constitutionally enshrined voice to parliament.

Luckylyn explains what it’s like to be part of this important community-led movement for a more inclusive Australia.

What’s been your role in the Treaty campaign?

ANTaR is preparing to co-host a landmark event – the National Treaties Summit – in Melbourne in April 2020. ANTaR is partnering with the National Native Title Council and the University of Melbourne to bring together diverse voices - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders, treaty commissioners, international experts, community representatives, politicians and thinkers – to share ideas, experiences and expertise. Members of the public are also highly encouraged and invited to attend.

My role has primarily involved research and the production of material for the purposes of advocacy and educating the broader community. This has included factsheets, content for ANTaR’s webpages, using social media to promote the Summit, and blog articles. I really believe that educating the public on the issues is a major step in effecting change.

What made you choose ANTaR?

I have been taking more of an active interest in the domestic political landscape, particularly in the (unrealised) rights of our First Nations Peoples in Australia. I have also always felt a strong pull towards social justice. The desire to help others to reimagine their lives and to reshape societies for the better is, in fact, what drew me to my chosen field – anthropology.

I first learnt about ANTaR when their National Director spoke to our social justice class. Later that semester, I wrote a report on treaty-making in Australia. It just so happened that ANTaR was mobilising a nationwide campaign on the issue in the next couple of months. When the opportunity arose to be placed with the organisation I had to say ‘yes’. It felt like fate.

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your work?

Knowing that I’ve played a part in something greater than myself. Australia, as a nation, has never signed a treaty with its First Nations Peoples. One day we will. I will continue to be part of that grassroots movement for a better Australia. Our First Nations Peoples deserve full respect and recognition from their fellow Australians – and their resilience, against all odds, is of continuing inspiration to me.

It has been incredibly uplifting to witness the dedication of those involved with ANTaR - from the board, to the directors, to the volunteers who turn up every week. Non-Indigenous Australians who support the aspirations of First Nations Peoples do so based on the strength of their convictions and a sense of what is right and just.

What advice would you give to others looking to do an internship?

Think about how an internship can serve you and your career goals. Who do you want to work for and what do you want to do upon completion of your degree? Aim to be placed with one of those organisations or, if that’s not possible, with an organisation in the same policy space.

Also, think about the gaps in your skillset and roles where you can develop those skills. A placement is a great way to upskill. Until your knowledge and skills have been exercised in a ‘real world’ capacity, you cannot fully understand their import and value in the workforce, and the wider world.

Find out more about the ANTaR Treaty campaign.

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