I had the humbling opportunity to be part of the Torres Strait Islander delegation who shared the voice of Torres Strait Islander people at the recently held 2017 National Constitutional Convention (24-27 May 2017) otherwise known as the Uluru Convention.
But, my journey to Uluru started as a young boy living on Thursday Island, Torres Strait, Queensland with my family in the suburb of Rosehill. We were living with my grandfather Cook Sailor a WWII veteran with the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion, church leader, provider and hunter. Who during our time wading through the low tide shallows between Thursday Island and Hammond Island foraging to provide for our household, shared stories of the past, the importance and responsiblity of being a Torres Strait Islander, and member of our family. Life long lessons which sometimes I forgot and made mistakes, but held within my spirit and identity.
So as a I travelled with brothers and sisters on the Virgin Charter to Uluru with the Aboriginal flag draped in the walkway. I reflected on the Torres Strait regional dialogue, my fellow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates, my family, but it was the memory of the time with my grandfather which I kept repeating in my mind, even when the view of Uluru loomed on the horizon as we landed at the local airport.
The opening ceremony was powerful and an opportunity for a visible sign of unity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through dance and ceremony. It was in short awe inspiring and bittersweet at the same time as the realisation of the Northern Territory Intervention and other challenges Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are experiencing in our communities.
Connecting with my fellow Torres Strait Islander delegates following the ceremony, we all realised that we were one voice of the Torres Strait regional dialogue and that we had a responsibility to demonstrate "debe pasin" (respect), share through action our unity with Aboriginal brothers and sisters but also all our Australian countrymen and women.
The Uluru Convention discussions and insights I heard and was part of were on the whole shared from not just intellect but from spirit of voices of the past, present and future. But, it was the voice of Aunty Allison a local elder which resonated with me as we were on her peoples' country and had to pay respects to the land we were meeting on. Aunty Allison's wisdom shared in her language and English was a firm reminder of why we were meeting but also that we need to respect, listen, be open and create action from the event.
Each day, I would enter the main meeting room and pay homage to the two immense flags which graced the walls of the room and my fellow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates. I shared in the conversations and respected each speakers views even the brothers and sisters who made the decision to walk out of the Convention and air their frustrations. Who through their passion forgot the wisdom and words of Aunty Allison whose peoples' had invited us on their country.
After three days of discussion and insights the Convention drafters composed "The Uluru Statement"
Our final action involved each of the Regional Dialogue delegations nominating three delegates (male, female and youth) from their regions to be part of the Working Group to continue the journey and lead the campaigns. Congratulations to all working groups members including for the Torres Strait Islanders, Ken Bedford, Rowena Bullio and Carla McGrath. But, the Uluru Statement and the Working Group are a presence but it will take ALL Australians in UNITY to create the sustainable change required.
On the last day in Uluru, I took time out to reflect and pay respects to the country I had the humble opportunity to work on and also absorb the magnitude of what I had been part of over the three days, and the people I had the pleasure of connecting with and learn from.
But, the whole journey for me was the cyclic memory and messages of my grandfather and other Torres Strait Islander relatives, friends and stories which I visualised on my Uluru journey. Because no matter where I walk within our global village as a business owner, community member, family member or as me I will always strive to empower and encourage sustainable, collaborative relationships to "maximise opportunities to make a difference" within our global village.
I would would like to pay respects to the Traditional custodians of the land the Uluru Convention was held, my fellow delegates and my Torres Strait Islander family who represented our people with honour, humbleness and respect. Au esoau
Murray Saylor - Founder & Managing Director of Tagai Management Consultants.