We do not need the Queen as our head of state in order to keep in touch with “tradition” – the usual defense of this colonial relict. We have an older and more locally relevant tradition here already – 40,000 years of Aboriginal culture.
We could address the Head of State problem, while also bringing Aboriginal culture and peoples into the centre of our national life rather than as the fringe-dwellers that most non-Aboriginal people see them as. We should have a Council of Aboriginal Elders as our “head of state” entity.
Representation on the Council would be based on Aboriginal groupings (“country” or “people”). I am not familiar enough with such groupings to fill in more detail here, but the end result would need to be a Council of around 12 or so members, with both a man and a woman drawn from each such grouping or area. I note that there are 12 major language zones across the country, or perhaps 16 such regions as here depicted, which could form a basis for this scheme. The exact structure of the selection process must of course be decided by the First Peoples themselves as suits the nature of the groupings and their hierarchy and structure.
Representatives to the Council would be chosen by local means, and would be rotated on a regular basis, say yearly, with a First Man and First Woman (not to be from the same group) to be decided within the Council to serve for that period. The current First Man and First Woman would be joint Heads of State of Australia, and the other members of the council would be the equivalent of Governors-General, that is being able to act in thier capacity when the “Firsts” are not available.
Regardless of how such a body was chosen, the idea is to draw from our First Peoples’ tradition and history to form such a Council as a source of wisdom and guidance for our unique nation, and to put our First Peoples in their rightful place at the core of our social and governmental system, instead of primarily being seen as “the Aboriginal problem”.
If every Aboriginal adult had a say in determining our Heads of State then I think national respect, and self-respect, that would transform the landscape of so-called “Aboriginal Affairs” and do more for reconciliation than anything else.