Time for change

Inner West Council has pledged its support for the Labor Government’s commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. To raise awareness in the lead up to the referendum, Council recently hosted an event with Senator Pat Dodson and Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Linda Burney. Here, guest writer Marc Bennie explains the Statement.

Mayor Darcy Byrne’s opening remarks – “We gather this evening with a new spirit. A spirit of hope and determination. It’s time for Voice, Treaty and Truth” indicates a time for change, a change that’s been a long time coming.

The intent and practicalities of the Uluru Statement from the Heart are not new in many ways, with previous governments having established various bodies over the past half century to represent the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, only to dismantle them and thereby removing their voice to have a say in decision making and policies that impact their everyday lives.

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The Uluru Statement from the Heart is the result of over 1,200 community consultations, culminating in an invitation from 250 representatives from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to walk together for a better future. However, there are complexities with the campaign. Councillor for Baludarri (Balmain) ward Kobi Shetty said “It’s the responsibility for all of us to get behind the campaign for an Indigenous voice in parliament. We’d love to see locals put their hands up to help on the campaign, so if that sounds like you, the Inner West Council has committed to train people for just that. You can contact the council to get involved.”

The ask of the Statement is not just about enshrining an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voice in the constitution, but also about treaty (agreement) making with the government; and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ rights, history and culture; and to settle injustices of the past. This process will be implemented through a Makarrata commission; Makarrata being a Yolgnu term for coming together after a struggle which will supervise the process of agreement making and implementation of truth telling about our nation’s history – seen as a healing process for the nation.

In addition to the greatest ever presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across state and federal governments to positively influence outcomes with communities, The Uluru Statement from the Heart campaign can create a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood in an inclusive and respectful way.

You can learn more about the statement and its intentions via https://ulurustatement.org/

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