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We’ve been hearing a lot about the Uluru Statement from the Heart in the news lately.
On May 21, Australia’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese started his victory speech with a message of support for the Statement.
“I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet. I pay my respect to their Elders, past, present, and emerging, and on behalf of the Australian Labor Party I commit to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full,” he said.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart didn’t get the same support when it was first presented in 2017.
Then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confirmed cabinet had rejected the First Nations Voice to Parliament proposed in the Uluru statement, stating it was not “desirable or capable of winning acceptance at referendum”.
This outcome was described by a number of senior First Nations leaders and organisations as a fatal blow to any hope of Indigenous recognition in the Australian constitution.
Sean Gordon, the chief executive of the Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council and one of the main spokespeople in support of the Uluru statement proposals, said he was “extremely disappointed” by the rejection.
What is the Statement from the Heart?
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a 2017 petition by Australian Aboriginal leaders to change the constitution of Australia to improve the representation of First Nations Australians.
It’s an invitation to the Australian people from First Nations Australians, asking Australians to walk alongside them to build a better future by establishing:
- A First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution
- A Makarrata Commission for the purpose of treaty-making and truth-telling.
The Yolngu concept of ‘Makarrata’ captures the idea of the coming together after a struggle. It’s about acknowledging that something has been done wrong, and it seeks to make things right.
“We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.”
Why is a First Nations Voice important?
The call for a First Nations Voice enshrined in the constitution provides a practical path forward to finally address the issues that governments alone have been unable to resolve.
The Statement argues that reforms such as a First Nations Voice would empower First Nations Peoples to address the “torment of powerlessness” that sees them overincarcerated and their children alienated from their families at alarming rates.
A First Nations Voice would provide the foundation for self-determination and better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
What happens now?
The new Albanese government made enshrining a First Nations Voice to parliament an election promise.
It’s not yet clear what a Voice to Parliament would look like, but First Nations groups and organisations are requesting that the government provides a timeline for a referendum.
We encourage you to read the Statement in full and learn more here: View The Statement - Uluru Statement from the Heart
RAQ stands with First Nations staff, clients, and communities who have been impacted by transgenerational trauma and continue to experience structural and systemic cultural bias and racism.
We recognise First Nations Peoples’ right to self-determination and that they are working to transform their lives.
We acknowledge the generosity of First Nations Peoples as they continue to build upon their resilience and resourcefulness and endeavour to develop and maintain respectful relationships with all other Australians and international visitors on their Lands.