Respectful conversation in Australia – a First Nation’s Voice to Parliament

A contribution from the Friends of the Heysen Trail Reconciliation Committee.

We encourage all members to be informed on the Voice from all perspectives and to respect all individuals and their positions in relation to the Voice.

Uncle Lewis O’Brien, a significant Kaurna Elder teaches that when non-Aboriginal people look at a proposition or a problem they tend to divide into camps with a Yes or No response.

The Kaurna people were the teachers and knowledge keepers. They looked at the brain and called it muka muka because it appeared in two halves.

What that means for decision making in the Aboriginal community is that we should think both ways. In other words, look at a problem from all sides before resolving which direction to take.

The Referendum on October 14th 2023

Australians are being asked if they support Aboriginal recognition and an Aboriginal Voice to Parliament at the Referendum on the Australian Constitution that will be held on October 14th 2023.

A Referendum is the people’s choice. We should hold respectful conversations as it is beholden upon us to be informed. We need to look at this question in principle from all angles.

All perspectives are relevant; all questions are legitimate; all positions are respected.

The 1967 Referendum with a 91% Yes vote resolved to count Aboriginal people in the census for the first time. It was a campaign that supported Aboriginal rights.

Yet, up to that time, Aboriginal people had been named in the Australian Constitution solely by exception. The powers that enabled the Australian Government to make laws on the basis of race previously read, “……….except for Aboriginal people……” as it was the States that made laws for Aboriginal people. Those words were removed and since then the Constitution has remained totally silent upon Aboriginal people; not a single mention.

A bi-partisan approach to recognition in the Constitution

In 2015, Tony Abbott, as the Liberal Prime Minister, met with 40 Aboriginal leaders at Kirribili House and Bill Shorten, the Opposition leader, joined him. It was resolved in a bi-partisan way to establish a Referendum Council that would consult with Aboriginal people as to their views on recognition.

The Referendum Council held twelve Regional dialogues right across the country. From these, delegates were appointed to go to Uluru. Six years ago the Uluru Statement from the Heart was developed as a result of the meeting at Uluru.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart

243 people at Uluru agreed by consensus that not only did they want Constitutional Recognition, they wanted something more substantive by having a Voice to Parliament.

Click on this link to read the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

This remarkable statement, which is full of grace and meaning, is clear and invites us to join the people’s movement across the country to unite for change.

“In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future”.

Follow this link to read the full statement prepared by FOHT Reconciliation Committee.

The Friends need help with Bookkeeping

The Friends need help with Bookkeeping
The Friends are seeking a volunteer to join the bookkeeping team.

Job Description
– Manage the finances of the Association
– Maintain financial records – invoices, receipts, sales
sheets, and petty cash
– Pay accounts and manage the weekly banking
– Perform the weekly balance
– Liaise with Treasurer and Office staff

Skills Required:
– Have an understanding of general office procedures –
Use of various computer systems, including MYOB Account Right, Microsoft Excel and Word.
— Financial record keeping

Location and Times:
– The Friends office, Suite 203, Epworth Building,
33 Pirie Street, Adelaide
– Fridays – 10am to 2.30pm

For further information, contact the Office.

John and Margaret will happily answer your questions.

The Friends modified walk program to start around mid June

Last year we started walking the Heysen Trail as a family again, but this time with children of my own

Easing of restrictions will allow gradual reintroduction of walks

The Friends Council appreciates your ongoing support during the Covid 19 restriction period.  The latest SA Government announcement about a slight easing of some restrictions is welcome, although we will remain vigilant in protecting the health and safety of our volunteers and members.

Council has supported a recommendation from the Chair of the Walking Committee to adopt appropriate guidelines that will assist us to revive small group walking over the next few weeks.  Walk leaders will be consulted about suitable loop walks with the view to ease into a modified program around the middle to late June after finalising any practical steps.

Extra responsibilities of walkers

Members attending walks will be expected to

  • register online
  • take responsibility for their own and others health by adhering to the current social distancing requirements; and
  • stay away if they have any cough, cold or fever symptoms.

End-to-End 2020 programme remains cancelled

Council’s decision to cancel our End to End walks for this year (and subsequently confirmed in the April news item) has not been rescinded.

Golden Boots passes extended

To acknowledge the patience of our members during the Covid restrictions, Council has decided to extend expiry dates for Golden Boots passes by 12 months.

Trail maintenance

We are also looking at how to recommence volunteer trail maintenance and will notify members when we have confirmed those arrangements.

Office relocation and reopening

During this period the Friends is also moving office to a larger space just next door.  The office will remain closed until the relocation has been completed.  Council has decided it is safer for our team if we get the new space organised before opening up again.

See you on the trail

We appreciate your patience as we gradually ease back into operation, and look forward to seeing you back on the trail.

Melanie Sjoberg,

FOHT – Response to COVID-19

Announcement: All Friends events cancelled until the end of May 2020

Dear Members and Volunteers

FOHT has been monitoring the rapidly changing developments arising from the pandemic announcement for Coronavirus COVID-19 and especially the need to adhere to public health requirements issued by the Federal and State Governments.

As a member-based organisation that relies on the active support of our dedicated volunteers, we are most focused on the health, safety and wellbeing of our members and volunteers.  We have considered the public health requirements about social distancing as well as the related issue of avoiding non-essential activity and our specific demographic. We also wanted to make clear decisions that allow lead in time for our volunteer Walk and Maintenance Coordinators to organise necessary changes to programmed events.

The Friends Council has made the difficult decision to cancel ALL FOHT events: this includes all walks in our program, all trail maintenance trips and section work, all face-to-face meetings and to close the office.  This will have effect immediately until 31 May 2020. We recognise that the public health requirements may continue to change so Council has established a small response group to review the COVID-19 situation as it evolves and update members should changes occur.

Action from hereon:

  • Walk and Maintenance Leaders will contact groups about any specific details.
  • The Office will continue to be monitored by a small team of willing volunteers to ensure emails, phone and shop are managed.
  • Finance team will generally manage the bookkeeping by remote access.
  • We will apply the usual refund policy where members are already booked and paid on walks. If this affects you, you will not need to contact the Office. Please allow us 2 weeks to complete  your  refund.
  • Our Council and Committees will organise through email and phone discussion as needed.

Advice to our members

We encourage you to individually get out walking in nature for your own physical and mental well-being and where it aligns with the current public health requirements.

  • Practice social distancing i.e. keep at least 1.5m away from others;
  • Increase hand hygiene by washing with soap & water after sneezing, coughing, toilet and contact with doors, benches etc.
  • Dispose of tissues safely.
  • Use email and phone communication.
  • Stay home if you are unwell.

These decision will create challenges for the Friends and our partner bus companies, as the current situation is damaging many small businesses.  Please consider renewing your membership to continue to support the Friends and the Heysen Trail.

If you have any questions or concerns

Please email the office if you have any specific questions.  We will appreciate your patience as we may take longer than usual to respond.

This is an unusual time but mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus to protect community health is critical. You may find the following sites useful in monitoring developments:

Melanie Sjoberg

Easy membership renewals coming – we’re getting ready to upgrade our website

As a part the upgrade of our membership and walk registration system we will be temporarily suspending online walk registrations for a day or so.

What are we doing?

We are updating the software that we use to run the membership and walk registration system. These changes to the ‘back end’ are mainly going to affect our Office Volunteers and Walk Leaders, but the system will make it easier to renew your membership.

We’ve chosen a period of low demand to make the change. This will allow us to be ready for the period of increased website traffic during the walk season.

Will the change affect you?

Apart from the temporary reduction in services on our website, our members and frequent visitors won’t notice many changes.

Our website address will continue as

After the upgrade, the Walk Calendar on the website will look slightly different. But the calendar will operate much the same as the one you are familiar with.

There will be a welcome change for anyone intending to register for our End to End 15 walk. Registrations for this and all other events will no longer have a set opening time of midnight. Bookings will generally open at 7am instead.

You can help make the change easy

Over the next week our Office Volunteers will be undertaking training in using the new system.

If you need to renew your membership or register for a walk, we ask you to use the existing website. It will be operating normally until late on Monday February 17th.

If you contact the Office before the shutdown, we may not be able to answer the phone immediately. For urgent enquiries, please send us an email which we will action it as soon as we can.