Guest blog by Brendan Mahoney
I was too young to really know what it was when I first felt injustice, so while I would say that it wasn’t fair, I accepted it as ‘the way things are’. In primary school, in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, I was picked on for being short. I recognise now that this wasn’t fair, and it is all too usual in Australian schools to be bullied based on parts of your identity that you can’t change.
I also recognise now that I didn’t have a voice in the situation. I didn’t have the knowledge to stand up for myself. I was lucky to have support from my parents, some teachers, and friends too. I also later recognised that this was not as much of a big, serious or structural issue as ones faced by others. This was particularly clear to me when I was 16-17 and starting to embrace my queer (bisexual) identity in high-school – the constant homophobic slurs, the social isolation, and the violent bashing – certainly brought this home to me.
I was lucky, the school did not tolerate violence at least, but the pain and the hurt stayed with me for many years. Now an adult, with a voice of my own, I was glad to see the community stand up and support a Yes vote for Equal Marriage. And proud of my parents and friends who supported me and who I am.
However, as a white, Anglo-Australian, I am also aware that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders face an ongoing unjust situation simply for who they are. It is clear in the situation of many people I grew up around in the Seven Hills/Blacktown area that I grew up in.
I’ve grown to know that, while the Western Suburbs of Sydney is a great place, it can also be isolating with poor infrastructure. There was also little acknowledgement of the cultures there – particularly of the First Nations people of the area, the Darug. Some of these issues are starting to be addressed, but there is much more to do.
These are big, serious and structural problems that we need to work on for a fairer, better Australia.
I have now moved away from the Blacktown area, and while I remain connected to the area through occasionally work there and seeing my parents, I have no formal connections to Darug culture or peoples. I am telling a part of my story to share my experiences, reclaim my voice, and ask for your support.
I am an ally in support of a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice. I believe it is important that we work together to provide a formal structure that allows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to speak for themselves and address the injustices that they experience.
This is why I support the Uluru Statement from the Heart. And I ask you to use your voice too in support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s self-determination?
We can fix these injustices and give everyone a voice!
About my guest blogger:
Brendan Mahoney grew up in the Seven Hills/Blacktown area and currently lives in the inner west of Sydney. He has completed a PhD through Western Sydney University and works as First Year Experience Coordinator at The College, Western Sydney University at the Bankstown and Nirimba campuses. Brendan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article.
If you would like to subscribe to the Uluru Statment and First Nations Voice campaign you can do so at www.1voiceuluru.org (it is in the section titled “Support the Uluru Statement”)
If you would like to join the Australian-wide campaign team, you can request to join the team on Facebook Here.
Got a story you’d like to share about why you support the Uluru Statment from the Heart and a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice? There’s no time like the present, please contact me today!
Until next time Love, Joy and Peace to you.