Westerly seeks in all things to offer respect to the continuous living cultures of our First Nations peoples and their vital contributions within Australian society. We seek to honour that continued culture and the sustenance it offers Country in the Magazine as best we can.
Njaki-Njaki writer Dougie Nelson offered us a beautiful definition of Country in Issue 63.1: “Country is not a differentiation between urban and rural or remote areas. It does not simply consist of an open area or location of land. It is not an inanimate, tangible object or concept […] Country is the embodiment of all living entities situated within Country. This includes the people, land, sky, wind, tree, rock, kangaroo, honey ants, rivers and everything else. All that Country contains is alive and to speak of Country, is to speak of all that Country involves. […] It is impossible to speak of Country without also speaking of stories” (84–5). (Read the piece here.)
We’re at a watershed moment in Australian history: one at which there is the potential to cement forever the importance of First Nations stories within the Constitution. This is a moment at which we have chance to make space for the truths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as to embrace, as a nation, the ethics of deep listening. This began with the Uluru Statement from the Heart, and brings us now to the point of the coming referendum for a Voice to Parliament.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart notes that ‘sovereignty is a spiritual notion’—that it is an ancestral tie linking First Nations people to this place. Acknowledgement of this, as the Statement suggests, might allow for ‘a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood’. Thus, this moment of decision on a First Nations Voice to Parliament is an opportunity for change.
Westerly supports the Voice, as we have supported and sought to embrace the principles of the Statement from the Heart. The voices of First Nations Writers are vital to Westerly, and it is our hope that the contributions of these writers will be heard and considered far beyond the literary community.
Daniel Juckes and Catherine Noske, on behalf of Westerly Magazine