In May 2017, the Uluru Statement from the Heart was delivered to the Australian people by a large national gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the First Nations National Constitutional Convention.
The declaration calls for the establishment of a ‘First Nations Voice’ in the Australian Constitution and offers an invitation for all people living in Australia to walk together for a better future.
The Sydney School of Education and Social Work strongly endorses the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the constitution of Australia and the establishment of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.
The school strongly endorses a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum of 14 October 2023 in which Australians will be asked to answer the following:
An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament has the potential to provide informed, timely and sustained advice to non-Indigenous and Indigenous members of parliament on matters pertaining to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament is in alignment with the principles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Self Determination and will contribute to the resettng of relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in Australia now and into the future.
A ‘Voice’ for Aboriginal people to Parliament is indicative of something we strive for as academics with sound research and community engagement ethics. By this I mean full participation and engagement through co-design and allowance for community-led participation, to fully allow people a say in what affects their lives and how they wish to be represented. Voting ‘No’ to the Voice means voting against ethical engagement or allowance for differences in needs. Voting ‘Yes’ to the Voice allows for full inclusion and an opportunity to set agendas as required by and for Indigenous peoples in Australia.
Introducing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory group to Australia’s national parliament will reflect the longstanding, successful practices of many state, territory and national public organisations.
Importantly, Sovereignty is not ceded with the introduction of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament.
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.
Further, the Sydney School of Education and Social Work endorses the Uluru Statement in its entirety and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations peoples and truth-telling about our history.
In endorsing the Uluru Statement and the ‘Yes’ vote, we are nevertheless cognisant and respectful of a diversity of views about the referendum. We acknowledge that there are many who argue that the proposed changes are insufficient.
We also acknowledge that this is a potentially difficult time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Conversations about the referendum and proposed Voice to Parliament, if not conducted respectfully, have the potential to be harmful for First Nations peoples.