Supporting First Nations foreign policy

Charles Darwin University

Better supporting First Nations people, businesses and exporters through trade, collaboration, sovereignty and foreign affairs is the focus of a forum held at Charles Darwin University today.

CDU’s Alice Springs campus is hosting Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong in Central Australia with a panel discussion and yarning circle to discuss how to better incorporate First Nations perspectives on foreign policy.

The discussions which were held on CDU Alice Spring’s campus focused on how collaboration between First Nations communities and neighbouring countries could be strengthened through foreign policy priorities.

First Nations business and economic development interests were also the focus of the visit, as well as advocating for greater representation of First Nations people and experience when it comes to foreign policy and communicating Australia’s reconciliation journey with other countries.

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Penny Wong said Labor was focused on ensuring that First Nations voices were central to foreign policy in Australia.

“We have an important opportunity to fully realise the knowledge and experience of First Nations Australia in our engagement in the world,” Senator Wong said.

“Foreign policy starts with who we are. Labor is committed to ensuring the Australia we project to the world reflects 60,000 years of continuous connection to this land, as well as the true sense of our modern, multicultural identity.”

Deputy Vice-Chancellor First Nations Leadership Reuben Bolt said a foreign policy approach must be centred on First Nations people and their perspectives.

“First Nations people have thousands of years of diplomatic practise in Australia, and their ideas, views and voices must be a part of this conversation to help shape the overall direction for our country,” Professor Bolt said.

“It was fantastic to host the Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs in Central Australia to champion how we can better incorporate First Nations perspectives from the Territory on a global level.”

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said the Labor Government’s commitment to the Uluru Statement of the Heart in full would ensure Indigenous voices are heard at the highest levels of Government.

“First Nations people offer a wealth of knowledge and perspectives that can help steer Australia’s efforts in diplomacy, negotiation and reconciliation in an increasingly globalised world.”

“My Labor colleagues and I are committed to delivering a voice to Parliament to work in our nation’s best interests and unlock the full potential of First Nations’ business and economic development.”

Senator Wong met with students from Yipirinya School and participated in a yarning circle with local Arrernte Elders and CDU First Nation students as a part of the visit at CDU.

As a part of the visit, CDU Director of the Northern Institute Ruth Wallace and Yolŋu researchers briefed the Shadow Minister about the Indigenous diplomacy research program delivered by elders from East Arnhem Land, Kaurareg, Wagadagam and Ngambri-Ngunnawal nations.

The program is a collaboration with CDU’s Northern Institute and College of Indigenous Futures, Education and the Arts, and Australian National University (ANU) – Department of Pacific Affairs.

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