Outgoing Senior Australian of the Year Sr Anne Gardiner has urged non-Indigenous people to do more to open lines of communication with their Indigenous compatriots, ABC News reports.
Sr Anne has told an audience in Darwin that non-Indigenous people needed to do more to listen to their Indigenous compatriots.
The 86-year-old nun has earned accolades for her tireless efforts to preserve Tiwi culture and language, but audiences at Wednesday night's Eric Johnston Lecture heard a different story.
"I know that when I was a young sister, I failed to listen. I thought I was [on the Tiwi Islands] to do it my way," she said.
Sr Anne said delivering the lecture — an annual talk devoted to Northern Territory history — was meaningful because of the inspiration she had drawn from the former Territory administrator and event namesake.
"I held Eric in very high esteem, mainly because of the way that Eric looked at and acted towards Aboriginal people," Sr Anne told ABC Radio Darwin's Richard Margetson.
"I hope I have shown to the Tiwi people that I too want them to remain who they are."
She used the lecture to urge others to take a leaf from her book and open lines of communication with Australia's Indigenous population.
"So my idea is to commence building bridges, because all bridges have two entrances," she said.
"If we started to walk across the bridge and meet with and talk to Indigenous people, I think the world would be a very better place."
She said conversations needed to take place everywhere from the footpath to Parliament House.
"And yes, I'm also speaking about my disappointment regarding the Uluru Statement. I would've expected that they would've called back the Indigenous people to talk it over further," Sr Anne said.
"It really hurts me and gives me a very low opinion of politicians who are not ready to discuss and to listen."
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended the decision to reject the statement, saying the proposed advisory body would be "contrary to the principles of equality and citizenship".