IF ANTHONY Albanese's opening declaration as prime minister is to truly make a difference and mature a nation, he must adopt an original approach, traditional owners in Ballarat say.
Mr Albanese's bold move to progress the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, including a First Nations' voice to parliament, has sparked apprehension and wonder in Ballarat with a clear hope.
It is not lost on them that this Thursday is National Sorry Day ahead of National Reconciliation Week.
Uncle Murray Harrison, a member of the Stolen Generation, has experienced decades of empty prime ministerial promises linger in history.
Much of his life into early adulthood was "controlled by a piece of paper", needing leave passes for day trips or permission to marry his sweetheart Norma. He was a ward of the state.
Uncle Murray said the reality of self-determination or Indigenous parliament representation must be done "the right way" - and that demanded really listening.
If Mr Albanese is going to do something, let it be original- Uncle Murray Harrison
"If Mr Albanese is going to do something, let it be original," Uncle Murray said. "This is really something the world will look at and say 'yes, this is truly from him', not just a make-over. He needs to get the facts and make his own statement, otherwise there is just words.
"...A leader doesn't need to stand up and shout or scream. This is about we, as a team, hopefully doing something a previous government has not done. He needs to talk to people who know and understand where and what it is all about; make sure there is real input not rush about doing this.
"Mr Albanese needs to firstly go back to the people of Uluru and say 'now you tell me your story' and sit and listen on his bum - not on a chair - in the dirt so he can feel grounded."
Uluru Statement of the Heart was co-written amid an historic meeting of Indigenous peoples from across the nation in 2017. The statement has three key objectives: a voice to parliament, treaty and truth.
Genuine gestures are important to Uncle Murray, who pointed to Prime Minister Gough Whitlam pouring soil into the hands of Gurindji elder Vincent Lingiari in 1975 amid a negotiated land claim in the Northern Territory.
Uncle Murray also spoke of his personal encounter with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who, when visiting Ballarat, ensured a seat for him in a function and personally sought him out in a crowd to take his hand, look him in the eye and say he was truly sorry.
WATCH: Uncle Murray talks about the two words that changed his life (February 2018)
When Mr Rudd made a formal apology to the Stolen Generations on February 13, 2008, Uncle Murray was in the gallery and felt genuine meaning. Uncle Murray said that for all the words from prime ministers before Mr Rudd, members of the Stolen Generation felt real. They were no longer a myth.
Teacher, singer and Indigenous advocate Deb Clark, who has Torres Strait Island heritage, watched Mr Albanese's victory speech with her daughter in a shared "apprehension, excitement and wonder".
Ms Clark said it was unlikely anyone could deny the "beautiful" words of the Uluru Statement but putting it into practice was a whole different challenge.
There were a lot of unanswered questions such as what Indigenous Affairs Minister-elect Linda Burney might represent and who else might be represented in a treaty space so all voices were heard.
Underneath it all, Ms Clark said there was a real sense self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples might be truly recognised.
"Would I say I am excited? I am all about changing where change involves the most disadvantaged and spaces where voices are heard," Ms Clark said.
"...I wonder if people realise what's being asked. Anyone can agree the words are powerful and there are a lot of truths but how do you bring in the TOs, the traditional owners and custodians? We are bending all the time to fit in rather than a meeting in the middle.
"But, what a way to start Reconciliation Week."
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Ms Clark said the immediate addition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags for Mr Albanese's address was powerful. She was impressed with how both Mr Albanese and Labor Senate leader Penny Wong spoke with heart and in a natural way when speaking of the world's oldest living continuous culture.
"What comes from this has to come from an authentic space," Ms Clark said. "I found his speech overall to be hopeful. What we have all learnt from this election is politics has to change."
Uncle Murray also noticed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags front and centre in the address.
"Back that up with words that mean something," he said. "Read the Uluru Statement but also go to each state's leaders and understand what that means to each region."
Both were unsure how First Nations voices might fit into a long-entrenched Westminster system but, this could be a real chance to try something different.
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