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College snapshots

Speaking from the heart

Thomas Mayor (top row centre) delivered a PQS address from the heart

Late in Term 3, 100 students and teachers from St Kilda Road gathered virtually to hear an absorbing Public Questions Society address given by author, wharfie, union official and Indigenous issues advocate Thomas Mayor. The arresting thing about Thomas’s address was the way he spoke from the heart on two levels: the very personal and the very public.

With his introspective author’s hat on, Thomas introduced his new book Dear Son. Aimed at dispelling the stereotype around what masculinity is for First Nations men, the Torres Strait Islander and father-of-five invited 12 different Indigenous men from all around Australia to write a letter to their sons, including journalist Stan Grant, musician Troy Cassar-Daley and NRL player Joe Williams. Dear Son shares their heartfelt letters and reflections on masculinity, love, culture and racism.

The questions posed by students showed their sensitive engagement with the issues shared in the book. However, what really shone out was their obvious interest in his work involving matters of the heart on a very public scale - his advocacy for the proposals in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Here too he dispelled a number of unhelpful myths and anxieties about what the Uluru Statement truly means.

Prime among these was the scaremongering about some fictional ‘third chamber’ of parliament, with the attendant threat of ‘too much power’. In fact, said Thomas, a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution would ‘simply have the constitutional power to exist and not be destroyed by a hostile government, and secondly, it would have the right to be able to table advice to the parliament… it’s not enforceable - it’s advice’. He made the point that ‘the Australian Parliament will still make decisions about laws and policies; the ability to influence the debate should be enough to see that the right decisions are made.’

You can read the Uluru Statement from the Heart here: ulurustatement.org

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