TLF ID M025858
After many decades of working with the colonial Commonwealth Government of Australia, Yolngu Elder and renowned leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu argued (as many First Peoples do) that it's in their best interest to establish independence, politically and economically, from the colonial state. "We, the united clans of east Arnhem land … do humbly petition you, the 26th Prime Minister of Australia … to secure within the Australian Constitution the recognition and protection of our full and complete right to: • our way of life in all its diversity; • our property, being the lands and waters of east Arnhem land; • economic independence, through the proper use of the riches of our land and waters in all their abundance and wealth; • control of our lives and responsibility for our children's future." – 2008 Yirrkala Petition Yunupingu's position is an example of self-determination. Initially proposed in the 1970s as a policy direction away from the previous decades' assimilation policies (which aimed to absorb First Peoples into colonial culture), self-determination captured a new emphasis: respecting the right to independence and self-governance of First Nations communities, and legally and constitutionally enabling, encouraging and empowering communities to exercise this right. For a vast number of complex reasons, self-determination has not yet been realised in the way many dreamed it would be. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities continue to face challenges in establishing meaningful independence under the weight of structural inequalities and inequities and the intergenerational traumas resulting from colonial injustices. Yunupingu argues that if the right to First Nations independence were to be genuinely and actively upheld, communities would grow and benefit not only economically but also socially, culturally, spiritually and in terms of health and wellbeing.