The advertising is finished, the booths are closed, Indigenous leaders asked for a week of silence after the referendum, and we respected that. Different commentators and politicians are analysing the campaigns, the results and the future. Click here for some of the range of analysis.
I owned in the blog "Going deeper to consider the Uluru Statement from the Heart" that we were voting 'yes'. So of course, there is some disappointment, but there are also two rather important things I'm glad about with this result:
1. I'm glad the results weren't the inverse, with a small 'yes' vote scraping in. I believe it needed to be a large 'yes'. I didn't want to see a large, mainly resentful minority, and the campaign started to feel like that was a distinct possibility.
2. An Indigenous friend who wanted a 'yes' result said to me: "Whatever the outcome, we have the most wonderful allies." I'm glad that was the message of support she got from us and hope that was true for others.
Of course, "Where to from here?" is an important question.
The Prime Minister was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying: “We are not Yes voters or No voters, we are all Australians. And it is as Australians, together, that we must take our country beyond this debate without forgetting why we had it in the first place.” I can say 'Yes' to that.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart had 3 requests: Voice, Treaty and Truth telling. We as nation said 'no' to the Voice in this format, what about the other two?
I've been interested in the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission for many years. I know it was based in the concepts of forgiveness and healing. I'd like us as a nation to learn from them. There is room in my head, my heart, and hopefully my country for that. Maybe instead of taking this idea to the polls, we can take personal steps considering this idea and any other future directions.
Some steps we all could take:
Have a chat to Indigenous friends, leaders or neighbours. Pondering what can be done differently.
If you don't already know about it ask your work about your Reconciliation Action Plan and if there isn't one maybe there's a part for you to play? This reminds me it's on our FR-to-do list, time to finalise it.
Connect with groups or organisations already involved in reconciliation. There's an Australian Reconciliation Network, and local reconciliation groups. Dungog has one and they read books together and discuss- a book club with a deeper purpose.
And reflect on what is the next step, individually, as a community, and as a country. On a labyrinth, (surely you knew it was coming), you follow the path, curling around, weaving in and out, until you get to the middle, staying a while and journeying out again. As you move and stay present, insights, ideas, sometimes solutions come. You can do it alone or do it as a group looking for direction.