Thomas Mayo is a Torres Strait Islander man born on Larrakia country in Darwin and signatory to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and a tireless campaigner.
Following the Uluru Convention, Thomas was entrusted to carry the sacred canvas of the Uluru Statement from the Heart to garner support for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations voice and a Makarrata Commission for truth-telling and agreement-making or treaties.
Thomas, the author of “Finding The Heart of The Nation,” “Dear Son,” and the children’s books “Finding Our Heart” and “Freedom Day,” embodies a unique and inspiring presence. He embodies a warm determination that elicits a contagious spirit, capturing the attention of many, including the Ponderings team, who avidly follow his work. His books serve as an educational and uplifting resource for exploring the intricacies of community life and offering insightful perspectives towards reconciliation. “Finding the Heart of The Nation” serves as a beautiful guide in grasping a deeper understanding of this dynamic landscape towards reconciliation.
If you could use only three words to sum up 2022, what would it be?
Never giving up
What is the greatest lesson you will take into 2023?
I chose the words ‘never giving up’ because when Indigenous people, including myself, made the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2017, the government rejected its call for a referendum to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. But we campaigned and invited the Australian people to support us. And, in great numbers, they have.
In 2022, the Albanese Government was elected, and the new Prime Minister promised a referendum this year, in 2023.
The government informs us that the referendum will be held late this year. So, the lesson is important. I won’t give up when it feels like the referendum may fail. I will keep asking the Australian voters to vote ‘Yes’ with me so that it succeeds.
What is your focus for the new year?
Without a doubt, my focus will be helping Australians understand why it is important to vote ‘Yes’ in the Indigenous Constitutional Recognition Referendum.
As 2022 ended and the new year began, I worked on a book with former ABC journalist Kerry O’Brien. The book will be out in June. It will provide Australians with a handbook to help them understand why their ‘Yes’ vote is important to all of us and guide them to have conversations with others about the referendum.
Who is the most inspiring human you have met this year?
I meet hundreds of new people yearly as I have worked toward the Voice referendum. There are far too many inspiring Australians to name here. I think collectively, people’s sense of the importance of fairness is inspiring. It helps me to believe the referendum for Indigenous constitutional recognition and a Voice can succeed.
Any exciting plans for the new year?
I am looking forward to the book with Kerry Obrien’s coming out in June. The title is The Voice to Parliament Handbook, and the publisher is Hardie Grant Books. We are keeping the book to around 100 pages, and making it as simple and clear as possible, covering all the detail people will need to vote ‘Yes’.
I am also developing a film adaptation of my book, Dear Son – Letters and reflections from First Nations fathers and sons. I will co-produce and co-write the film, which may be a feature film or series. It has been an important book, and the film will be too, to explore how Indigenous men have been stereotyped and how we can improve as men while celebrating all we have achieved.
Family and friendship are: genuine care, empathy and often sacrifice. It is what makes us all human.
Community is: in the Indigenous way, sharing and collectivism. It is raising our children with many mothers and fathers, all pitching in to build a better future and to sustain and protect our traditions and culture. Community is also Country. It’s central to everything. Without Country, we don’t have community.
You can visit HERE to learn more about Thomas’s books, and The Uluru Statement from the Heart information can be found HERE and at the bottom of every Ponderings article.
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