• 'The time for change is now": Waverley Stanley. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
The Republic referendum of 1999 was not on this long term educator’s radar. Events of recent weeks have changed that, with Waverley Stanley channeling the dedication that improved educational outcomes for the Indigenous community into the Republican push.
By
Malarndirri McCarthy

Source:
NITV News
28 Jan 2016 - 9:52 AM  UPDATED 28 Jan 2016 - 6:23 PM

Forty-eight-year-old Waverley Stanley is a passionate Australian. Proud of his Barunggam heritage and of how his parents raised him and his six brothers and sisters in Murgon, 270 kilometres north west of Brisbane.

Mr Stanley and his wife Llew Mullins founded Yalari in 2005 and established the Rosemary Bishop Indigenous Education Scholarship program to assist Indigenous students to complete secondary college anywhere in Australia.

'There has to be an Indigenous person as the first Head of State in any republic. A grassroots person from the ground up, not governed by political persuasion, someone impartial, a-political.'

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world," he says.

"I've taken Madiba Mandela's words with me with this Yalari program. This year we have 192 students in 30 secondary schools across Australia. In the past decade 137 students have graduated from Year 12."

This fiercely determined educator who has been transforming young lives across the country now wants to see his country step up to a transformation of a democratic kind.

"The time for change is now. We've got a divided nation right now. The longer we wait it becomes a bigger chasm to jump across," he tells NITV.

"We want a part of of a new Australia, where everybody gets a fair go."

Mr Stanley is weighing into the Republic debate, and he's not holding back.

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He disagrees with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who says Australia should wait for the end of the Queens' reign before any change can happen.

"So how long will that be? We can't wait another 20 years" he says.

Before entering politics, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull championed the cause for Australia to become a Republic.

The 1999 referendum was soundly defeated.

Its a 'heroic defeat' that Mr Turnbull says he is not in a hurry to repeat, despite pressure by Labor Leader Bill Shorten for a bipartisan process towards a second attempt at a Republic.  

Even the 2016 Australian of the Year David Morrison has made it clear he's in strong favour of a Republic saying on Australia Day, "with great respect to those who don’t share my views ... I will lend my voice to the republican movement."

Waverley Stanley believes a Republic will help to heal the divisive landscape spreading across Australia.

"There has to be an Indigenous person as the first Head of State in any republic. A grassroots person from the ground up, not governed by political persuasion, someone impartial, a-political. the selection will not and should not be tokenistic. It should be merit based on vision for the a better future for all peoples. Someone who wants the best for this country, not slave to the political master"

"It's about the lessons of history. So we don't repeat it. If we keep dong what we've always been doing, we'll keep getting what we've always got. In 228 years we couldn't have an Indigenous person as Prime Minister, or Governor General. Only Pastor Doug Nichols as Governor in South Australia."

As for a Treaty, Mr Stanley says in a future Republic, "There would be a Treaty in place, like the Treaty of Waitangi. There has to be a coming together of all First Nations people here."

And he adds that other cultures who call Australia home, need a voice too "like the South Sea Islanders".

"I didnt know much about the 1999 Republic Refendum, I wasn't ready too." But he is now.