Voice of Real Australia: The conversation we have to have

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from Australian Community Media, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's newsletter is written by ACM digital news editor Janine Graham.

There is a journey we, as a nation, must take. No matter what.

It will need to involve an ongoing, open dialogue; it will have moments of disagreement; moments of compromise and, perhaps most worryingly, demand more than a modicum of respect.

We take a step or two down the path, invariably during NAIDOC Week. And Australian Community Media's newsrooms nationwide love to share those Indigenous stories and images. We've showcased some of this week's best right here - in a little something we might just call our National Gallery*.

But now's the time for our nation's leaders to lead.

In a wide-ranging speech this week, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, explained his concept of "the Voice" as referenced in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

On one hand it's simple: "I perceive it as a cry to all tiers of government to stop and listen to the voices of Indigenous Australians at all levels, who want to be heard by those who make the decisions that impact on their lives."

On the other, it's not. Ask Eric Abetz.

The Canberra Times' Kirsten Lawson believes Mr Wyatt knows full well how ambitious his goal is of having a referendum on the constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians in three years.

SHOUT IT OUT: Lola and Louie Bovill plus Scarlett Hunt get into the celebrations at Port Stephens.

SHOUT IT OUT: Lola and Louie Bovill plus Scarlett Hunt get into the celebrations at Port Stephens.

Here's hoping for all Aussies that the ride ahead of us is smoother than the ones from regional Victoria to downtown Melbourne.

It seems many people on a recent train from Melbourne to Warrnambool took to The Warrnambool Standard's Facebook page to share their feelings about the trip.

"How much longer do we have to put up with a substandard service consisting of 50 plus-year-old rolling stock?" asked one. And no, it wasn't rhetorical (apparently) as a fellow traveller suggested: "It's called the old rattler for a reason."

Even closer to Melbourne, there's barely a week goes by that some sort of commotion doesn't wreak havoc on the Ballarat V/Line.

From bomb threats to the ever-mysterious "operational incidents" and the implementation of the heat policy, regional travellers sometimes need confidence in the relativity of time.

A few weeks ago something described as a line "construction blitz" prompted The Courier to warn travellers of their impending fate: "Thinking of taking a train to Melbourne next week? You'll be on a bus." Ah. Bugger.

Let's not go there. But look on the bright side, catching the train or the bus does present you with an excellent opportunity to catch up some of the weird wonderfulness being reported across the ACM network.

Who knew bottle lids could be recycled to make prosthetic limbs for disabled children using 3D printing? The Goulburn Post did.

Or that an anonymous woman donated $150,000 to the Royal Flying Doctor Service to refurbish an airstrip for them? You would've read that in Mount Isa's own North West Star.

And did you hear the one about the very organised woman who hit up her local Men's Shed to build her a recycled coffin for that last, permanent journey? The Maitland Mercury had that.

Check out more news and views from around the ACM network.

*Patent pending

Janine Graham, ACM digital news editor

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