The University of Sydney Law School’s Board has voted to formally support the Uluru Statement of the Heart.
Delivered in May 2017 at the National Constitutional Convention, the Statement is a ‘historic offering of peace’ that calls for the establishment of a ‘First Nations Voice’ in the Australian Constitution.
Sydney Law School Statement sponsors Associate Professor Jacqui Mowbray and Dr Emily Hammond said: “We are delighted the School has adopted this resolution. The Statement of the Heart is the first step to rethinking our legal order, and the place of First Nations peoples within it. We are proud that the School, beyond the advocacy of individuals, is the epitome of ‘leadership for good’.”
Dean, Sydney Law School, Professor Simon Bronitt, said that as the head of a community of scholars devoted to combatting injustice, the School’s adoption of the resolution was vital. It was further supported by the University’s Indigenous Strategy and Services Committee.
University of Sydney Vice Chancellor and Principal Professor Stephen Garton said he welcomed the Law School’s resolution: “We strongly encourage our community to express their views and, as an institution, have fully committed to embracing our Indigenous culture and supporting social justice.”
Beyond a moral imperative to ‘express concern…regarding the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’, including under legal frameworks, Law School academics said that the Statement recognises First Nations people’s right to self-determination under international law.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and that sovereignty was never ceded or extinguished and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown,” members of the Law School Board said.
The Board also emphasised the contribution legal scholars could make to Makarrata – ‘coming together after a struggle’. Included in the Uluru Statement, this process could inform the creation of agreements between governments and First Nations and encourage processes of truth-telling.
“We call on the Commonwealth government to endorse the Uluru Statement from the Heart, to take action to enshrine a First Nations Voice to Parliament in the Australian Constitution, and to establish a Makarrata Commission, as Australia’s First Nations People have requested,” the Board resolved.