For award-winning journalist Stan Grant, establishing a positive narrative around Australia’s Indigenous community is central to overcoming many of the challenges facing our nation, and he will explore this subject in depth when he delivers the 21st Annual Hawke Lecture, this Friday, November 16, for The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre.
In particular, Grant will discuss the missed opportunity represented by the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which was presented to the Federal Government in May 2017, calling for a First Nations Voice to be enshrined in the Constitution.
The Uluru Statement was rejected by then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Grant will examine why this was such an important chance spurned, not just for the Indigenous population, but for all elements of liberalism in Australian society.
To Grant and many others, the establishment of a genuine Indigenous role in our national leadership is an important part of the process of connecting the present to this land’s pre-European history through more than the wrongdoings of the last 200 years.
“The narrative of suffering is compelling because there is an undeniable historical link to contemporary misery,” Grant says.
“But there is an alternative narrative that is more nuanced, more hopeful and more convincing. It speaks to Indigenous people who have loosened the chains of the painful past, transformed ideas of culture, broadened and deepened questions of identity, and found a secure place in Australia.”
Grant brings a unique perspective, combining the professional understanding of a seasoned journalist with the life experiences of a Wiradjuri man who has faced his own discrimination, and he is a strong advocate for emphasising the positive achievements of Indigenous people as citizens of the world.
“As someone who identifies as Indigenous Australian — in a country where Indigenous identity can be fraught and politically charged — cosmopolitanism presents as a liberating idea that allows for a deeper and more complex sense of myself beyond fixed notions of race.”
Having enjoyed a distinguished career as a journalist, Grant is currently Chief Asia Correspondent for ABC and host of the current affairs program Matter of Fact, as well as authoring the books Tears of Strangers, Talking to My Country and the forthcoming Australia Day: The Memory of Wounds.
Grant joins a long list of distinguished speakers to have delivered the Annual Hawke Lecture, including the man in whose honour it was named, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke AC, climate economist Professor Ross Garnaut AO and Amnesty International General Secretary Dr Irene Khan.
The Annual Hawke Lecture series was established in 1998 to provide a forum for the discussion of human affairs by individuals whose concerns about our world are truly worthy of consideration.