Australia Must Address the Unfinished Business of the Uluru Statement from the Heart

26 May 2021                   

Four years on from the release of the historic Uluru Statement from the Heart, Australia’s largest member-based Aboriginal organisation says any attempt to introduce a Voice to Parliament not enshrined in the Constitution, would not have the support of First Nations peoples.

The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC), which has more than 20 thousand members across 120 Local Aboriginal Land Councils, reaffirms the core principles of truth-telling, justice and self-determination outlined at Uluru.

The Uluru Statement from the Heart called for a First Nations Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, the establishment of a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations peoples, and truth-telling about Australia’s history.

The NSWALC Chairperson Anne Dennis said the Indigenous Voice proposal released by the Federal Government falls far short of the Aboriginal aspirations expressed at Uluru, and its proposed mechanics remain unclear.

“Australia needs a Constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament, and we need a Makarrata Commission. What is being proposed currently is different to the Uluru Statement.

First Nations peoples don’t need another government advisory body. A national Voice must be based on formal shared decision-making arrangement and agreement, be representative of national and regional voices, communities, and community-controlled peak bodies,” she said.

The NSWALC calls for:

  • An independent analysis and report on the government engagements on the national and regional Voice proposals so we can all see what has been said.
  • A complete draft model of what is proposed by the Commonwealth so we can properly understand what is being proposed, how it will work and how our community-controlled organisations and the role of the NSWALC will be impacted.  
  • An Aboriginal-led process to determine whether what is proposed is in our collective and long-term interests. This can’t be a decision for government alone. 

The NSWALC, as a member of the NSW Coalition of Peaks (NSWCAPO) and the National Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Peak Organisations (Coalition of Peaks), has also made several recommendations in response to the Indigenous Voice Co-design process Interim Report 2020.

The NSWALC’s full initial response is available at this link