Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for urgent change

13 November, 2020

Our union remains committed to the establishment of a First Nations Voice to Parliament, as outlined in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Reconciliation remains a priority for our union, as we continue to acknowledge our ethical and professional responsibility to promote meaningful, positive relationships with First Nations Peoples.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart

We support the Uluru Statement from the Heart, in which First Nations Peoples invite all Australians to walk with them in a movement to achieve reconciliation and for a better future.

The Uluru Statement acknowledges sovereignty was never ceded or extinguished and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

According to the statement says, First Nations Peoples were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands and possessed it under their own laws and customs.

The Uluru Statement calls for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to Parliament as a crucial next step in promoting First Nations Peoples’ right to self-determination.

Previous ‘advisory bodies’ have been created and dissolved by changing governments and political priorities, but A First Nations Voice guaranteed by the Constitution will offer a permanent, protected platform for First Nations Peoples’ voices to be heard by Parliament, ensuring that First Nations people have a say in the policy matters that affect their lives.

To establish a First Nations Voice in the Constitution, this change will have to be passed at a referendum.

The exact details of the First Nations Voice are not set out in the Statement and will be the subject of further deliberation and negotiation, although it is likely that it would be an elected First Nations national representative body, which would empower First Nations Peoples and give them a voice in laws affecting them.

Reform is necessary and long overdue to give First Nations People, who only comprise 3% of the Australian population, greater say in and authority over decisions affecting them.

Thomas Mayor- photo by Martin Ollman

Voice. Treaty. Truth. Advocacy

Voice. Treaty. Truth. Advocacy, a new Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) initiative, teaches unionists to become better allies to First Nations Peoples and advocate for a First Nations Voice to Parliament and promote the Uluru Statement.

Thomas Mayor, the Deputy Branch Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia’s Northern Territory Branch and Torres Strait Islander man, along with Lara Watson, indigenous Officer for the ACTU and Birri Gubba woman, run the course together.

Thomas said it was important for all union members to learn about the Uluru Statement, because it is an invitation to them, as Australians, to walk with First Nations Peoples to achieve the type of change we collectively desire.

“It’s important because your members nurture and teach our next generation and as children, they themselves will also teach the adults in their lives today about it,” he said.

“IEU-QNT members have a significant opportunity to advocate for change and platform to spread the invitation in the Uluru Statement far and wide,” he said.

Lara Watson (photo by FNWA)

Learn more

Our union’s Yubbah Action Group meets regularly to discuss issues affecting our First Nations members, monitor the progression of our union’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and ensure our activities meet the ethical and professional standards set out in our union’s RAP.

Members who wish to read the Uluru Statement from the Heart, learn more about it, access resources and support the campaign should visit ulurustatement.org and read Thomas Mayor’s book Finding the Heart of the Nation: The journey of the Uluru Statement towards Voice, Treaty and Truth (Hardie Grant, 2019).

Read more about Thomas in the latest edition of Independent Education.

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