Koskela co-founder Sasha Titchkosky details why Koskela is proud to support the Indigenous Voice to Parliament in 2023.
As the daughter of immigrants, I feel like I haven't had an inherited perspective on what it means to be Australian, and how this relates to our relationship with First Nations communities.
When I was 10 years old, I won a book of Aboriginal stories as a prize. It was my first exposure to First Nations wisdom, and I grew up thinking that Western societies had missed the point on so many things that make life meaningful. I couldn’t fathom how we could be home to the oldest surviving culture on Earth and simultaneously not celebrate that fact.
Almost a decade after starting Koskela, around 2009, I started to explore the opportunity we had to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture through our work. It took 3 years of investigation and exploration, building relationships and gaining an understanding of what was and what wasn’t culturally appropriate. And it was a meeting with M. Ganambarr, a senior weaver from Elcho Island, that helped finally bring this idea to life, one manifestation of which can be seen in our Yuta Badayala partnership.
We didn’t want this work to be a one-off project or a tokenistic nod, we wanted to try and embed it as part of Koskela’s business as usual – make it part of our way of doing things. And collaborating meaningfully with the artists and communities we’ve worked with has been central to that. Now, almost 15 years later, I’m proud for Koskela to work with 30 different First Nations communities and artist groups across our range of products.
I’m sharing this story because right now we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity as Australian people and as a nation to vote in favour of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. We have an opportunity to benefit – as a country, as a society and as individuals – from First Nations practice, knowledge and wisdom being represented at the highest level of governance. I believe that all levels of Australian society will gain from this.
Australia is the only democracy in the world with a strong First Nations population that doesn’t recognise that fact in its constitution. The Voice is a long way from perfect, that’s for sure, but it is an invitation to co-create a better and more inclusive Australia together.
The Voice isn’t revolutionary, not by a long stretch. It isn’t a fix-all, and it isn’t going to change anything overnight. In fact, the Voice isn’t a lot of things.
But I know what the Voice is, too: It’s the result of years of collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to constitutionally recognise Indigenous Australians as Australia’s First Peoples. It’s an opportunity for permanent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community input at the federal level. It’s a chance to work with communities on workable initiatives and outcomes rather than have those outcomes imposed by Canberra. It’s opening the door to a more inclusive future for Australia.
The Voice to parliament is a long overdue step on a much bigger journey towards real and meaningful Treaty and First Nations sovereignty in Australia.
And I, for one, think that’s worth voting yes for.
If you’d like to learn more about the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which has led to the establishment of The Voice, Sasha recommends investing 20 minutes of your time on this short course: A Voice to Parliament - Overview