The Uluru Statement from the Heart has launched a massive campaign to call for a referendum on introducing a First Nations Voice to Parliament — something it’s been working on for five years and the wider First Nations community has fought for for decades.
The group has launched a History is Calling campaign, two weeks out from the federal election, to educate voters on the importance of the statement and to call for a referendum. This would mean the Australian population would be asked to vote on the single issue to ensure it passes rather than leaving it up to the government to do it.
The Uluru Statement was created and signed by Uluru Dialogue, a group of more than 250 First Nations delegates, in 2017. It called for the “establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution” and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission (an independent body) to supervise a process of truth-telling about Australian history. It’d basically give First Nations people a seat at the table they’ve never had before.
“First Nations Peoples have been fighting for a space in democratic life for generations and to this day, we still have no say in the laws and policies which affect us,” Uluru Dialogue Co-Chair Pat Anderson AO said.
“It’s plain as day to most Australians that politicians and bureaucrats are not closing the gap. For example, I’ve dedicated five decades of my life to Aboriginal health and we have not achieved any shift in entrenched disadvantage and poor health outcomes. This is primarily because we are not asked for input.”
Labor has promised to implement the Uluru Statement in full if elected but not said when. The Coalition has not mentioned it.
Referendums have worked in the past and can speed up a process that a government is sitting on.
The landmark 1967 Referendum asked Australians to vote on whether they thought Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be included in the census. The public voted overwhelmingly in favour of the constitutional amendment.
“The Australian Constitution was meant to be changed,” Uluru Dialogue Co-Chair Professor Megan Davis said.
“The referendum mechanism empowers all Australians to work together to change the nation, as they did in 1967.”
She said a referendum would put the power in the hands of the public and the new campaign reaffirmed the opportunity for all Australians to protect a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Australian Constitution.
“The Statement was directed to the Australian people because of the power of all Australians walking together in a movement for a better future. Silence never made history.”
The national education campaign will continue beyond the election to put pressure on whoever wins. Read more here.