Proud to be accepted as Submission 87 to the Joint Select Committee Recognition relating to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.


Makarrata is much more than just a synonym for treaty, though. It is a complex Yolngu word describing a process of conflict resolution, peacemaking and justice.

It is a philosophy that helped develop and maintain lasting peace among the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land.

“Makarrata has so many layers of meaning,” says Merrikiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs, a Gumatj woman and principal of Arnhem Land’s Yirrkala School.

“The first one, and the main one, is peace after a dispute.

Australia is one of few Commonwealth nations not to currently have a treaty or treaties with its Indigenous people, despite ongoing calls for a settlement.

The term Makarrata has long been proposed as an alternative name for the treaty process in this country. However, many people have only become familiar with it since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was released in May.


Here is my accepted Submission. How long for some action?

Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Submission 87

Senator Patrick Dodson and Mr. Julian Lesser MP
Joint Committee on Constitutional Recognition Relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
Parliament House
Canberra, ACT 2600 4th June 2018

Dear people,


I wish you to hear my voice as a white Australian who supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart. It is time that we listen to our First Nation Peoples. I am studying the white voices in the wilderness of the 1920’s, I have read the poetry of Oodgeroo Noonuccal, I lived in a country town as a child in the 50’s and I know how the Aboriginal people were treated . I am attending the Myall Creek Memorial Celebration this long June Weekend. I am aware of our policies of the past. I am aware of the blood shed although I was not taught any of this at school. ( Fortunately this is changing).


This last ten years there has been movement. Yet to hide behind and slow down everything we have had so many expert panels and committees including the recommendations in 2012 but now we must listen to the people themselves.

The mistakes of the past are with us – so violently in our subconscious that we spend a lot of effort suppressing and controlling our history, ignoring facts ,the truth.
Many, especially the older generations still live in fairy land of a peaceful past, still white washing our Nations story.

Trying to move forward as a nation without resolving and recognising the past will not work. We can no longer afford to ignore or deny our history.

We need leadership that explains this to the older people who were not told the truth at school.
We need leadership to encourage the people that it is to the advantage of us as a Nation to recognise and reconcile. And we need both side. Today we have an outreached hand to move forward. And we do not reach out . Our leader ignored the hand.!

The Uluru Statement from the Heart gives us a clear vision of a way forward for

  1. constitutional reform
  2. agreement making
  3. truth telling of our history from a different point of view.

The wonderful thing about this new move is it comes from the heart, symbolically from the heart of our nation.
It comes from a voice that is new, mature and it has the backing of the people from all around the nation. This consensus is unprecedented.

Its recommendation of a ‘voice to Parliament is our only viable way forward at this time.

Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Recognition relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Submission 87

Further it does not ask for a level of parliament but just as a voice. It does not water down the parliament . . it simply seeks to ensure that decision-makers of the parliament hear the voice of those that they affect so that decisions are better informed.

I know as usual we wanted to do some symbolic change of the constitution and not rock the boat. Well that will no longer work . The First Nation people will not accept symbolic moves anymore.
We have been given their well thought through statement and we have to move NOW.

This is the right side of history. If we don’t do it someone has to.

Please I ask that you take this seriously. Make this the last committee or expert panel that has to be formed to try and hide behind. There is already enough evidence from New Zealand and Canada to show this move makes it better for the First Nations but makes it better for all the people.

I believe one day the Uluru Statement from the Heart will be framed, enshrined in our parliament.

I just hope with all my heart that this step in the long journey of Reconciliation with our First Nations people happens in my life time. It is up to you the Committee now to say yes we are listening, let us move forward from here and it is up to our leader to bring the people with them and it is up to us to be awake and alert to helping carry those who are still fearful or ignorant or uneasy or unsure.

We can do it but we need your action this year to speak up and say Yes to our future as a mature nation.

Yours sincerely, Colleen Keating



A Landscape called Humanity By Colleen Keating

Excited to be included in the prestigious online journal Eureka Street with my new poem written last month, in response to the  Thai cave rescue of the 12 Thai boys and their football coach. The  early onset of the rainy season  flooded the exit to the cave trapping the boys. All were brought to safety over three heart rendering days while the whole world looked on. My poem was about grappling with the whole world focused on this scene even as many other tragedies were occurring around the world.

called A Landscape of Humanity


A landscape called humanity

a landscape called humanity

guided by divers and ropes

via a birth canal

from the womb of the cave in a dark mountain

through the tightness of crevasses

hold your breath   to clamber the choke point

surrender fear    inner light

heave in the labour from death to life

why is it disasters create heroes

under monsoon darkening skies

one cannot rely on the mercy of rain gods

it is tanks of air

and an international team

navy seal divers  engineers  scientists

technical expertise

medicos and teams of supporters

that garner our attention

surrounded by a world of tragedies and suffering

it is the challenge    the pull-together

that we marvel at

holds our focus   holds our breath

its peaks and troughs

with all hope mustered

its sheer beauty

this landscape of humanity

— Colleen Keating




A landscape called humanity



Selected poems

Topic tags: Poetry, Colleen Keating,



Those opening lines, Colleen, reminded me of the life delivering umbilical cord.

john frawley | 07 August 2018

What a breathtaking poem – a beautiful commentary Colleen on a beautiful disaster where human spirit showed it’s splendid strength. 

Elizabeth | 07 August 2018

A Poetry Reading Morning


In Conversation with a Local Poet. . .


A Poetry Reading Morning. . . . I was delighted to sit down in conversation with  Fiona Borland, the Librarian of the Mt. St. Benedict Centre,  Pennant Hills in Northern Sydney.

In Conversation with a local poet. It was very affirming to be identified as a local poet and know that my poetry books had been acquired by their librarian Fiona for their library. I was proud of my books A Call to Listen and Fire on Water both published over the past 6 years by Stephen Matthews at Ginninderra Press. S.A.

An invitation was put out to invite people to the Poetry Reading Morning. I had a selection of my poetry to read throughout the conversation some on nature , social justice, and indigenous story.   And then more conversation over morning tea as the Benedict Centre provide having Hospitality as one of their charisms.

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Poem on Grandchildren and Environment wins


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Good to receive word my poem  ‘a beautiful world’ received second place in the Annual Poetry Competition for Poetry Matters. Always affirming to have your work accepted and a cheque award is an extra bonus.  My award winning poem began with my Granddaughter  little Miss J putting my big shell to her ear and my saying ‘can you hear the sea?’ She listened seriously and said in her sweet three-year-old voice ‘I can hear the dolphins.’  That line stayed with me for the past three years. And then Thomas face-timed me from England with his  school project about  the problem of plastic  on the sea and the poem had its seed. 


a beautiful world

at the party I sit back
watch the action from the side
frivolity centres the room
spills out onto the deck

my daughters laugh 
in the kitchen
sampling each others specialities

the men outside
beer in hand
enjoy the sizzle of the barbecue

I watch their little ones 
busy at make-believe 
they are growing fast
each in their own way 
the eldest   now eight years old
is worried about the dolphins
what if they choke on the plastic and all die
the four year old responds 
i can hear the dolphins in grandma’s big shell

I remember my whispered words
as I held each for the first time
welcome little one
it is a beautiful world

now the world waits for them
silent  boisterous  open
their shining eyes also wait
and nested in hope  
my heart aches



Thomas  Keating-Jones and Plastic Project

with his helper and little sister Miss E and  his school project  about Plastic and its  impact on our ocean.

Thanks to The Great Wave of Kanagawa by Hokusai for the back ground.

Thanks to Ginninderra Press for their publishing my poetry and to Cheryl Howard who supports poets and poetry writing with her journal Poetry Matters