RLC supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart

Redfern Legal Centre supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart as an important step forward for all Australians. It is time to embed a First Nations Voice in Australia’s Parliament. This is a priority, and we must progress without delay.

Fifty-four years ago, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were counted among Australia’s Population Census for the first time.  In 2021, First Nations people are still asking to be heard.

The Uluru Statement is an opportunity for all Australians to participate, and it must not be squandered. This powerful, yet humble statement was the culmination of five years of detailed consultations and regional dialogues driven by First Nations people, creating a robust call to action to address the injustices and inequities stemming from Australia’s brutal past.

It is time for all Australians to acknowledge the atrocities of our history, and the ongoing impact of systemic racism and intergenerational trauma. It is time to walk with First Nations people towards a better future; one based on truth-telling, equality and trust.

First Nations people should not be denied the right to meaningful participation in political debates on laws and policies affecting them and their communities.

Redfern Legal Centre supports a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in Australia’s Constitution. We see in our daily work how easy it is for legislation to be repealed. The Constitution sets out our nation’s values and provides security and certainty that legislation cannot guarantee.

Redfern Legal Centre is dedicated to achieving greater access to justice for all Australians. We know that this process begins with the simple but powerful act of listening, which allows our clients to be heard.

It is time for us all to listen, and to amplify the voices that are the Uluru Statement. We need action, not more conversation. We need constitutional change so that the process of Makarrata (‘truth-telling’) and healing can occur.

RLC supports the call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament protected by the Constitution. Submissions in response to the Interim Voice Report close Friday, 30 April 2021.  Learn more about the statement and make a submission here.

Read the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full below.

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago. 

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown. 

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years? 

With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood. 

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future. 

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness

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. 

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution. 

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination. 

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history. 

In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.