Country, Culture, People, Future

YMAC’s support for the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’

YMAC’s support for the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’

YMAC’s Board of Directors has been clear in its instruction regarding the organisation’s full support for the Uluru Statement of the Heart and the calls to action contained within it. When it was extended, YMAC wholly welcomed and accepted its invitation and will continue to walk together with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in a movement of all Australian people for a better future.

YMAC is encouraged by the Albanese Labor Government’s commitment to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full. This is a historic step in the country’s journey towards genuine reconciliation.

The fact Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are still not recognised in the Australian Constitution is unacceptable. Hence, YMAC supports the call for reforms that would acknowledge the unique status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our country’s history, as well as their cultural vitality despite their long experience of colonisation and dispossession. Recognition must also be given to their special ongoing connection to Country, and their rights to protect and care for their ancestral lands should be made clear. In order to be meaningful, however, any amendments must be more than simply symbolic – they must also ensure real and meaningful empowerment and protections. Such significant, practical changes would include the statement’s further calls for the establishment of both a ‘First Nations Voice to Parliament’ and a ‘Makarrata Commission’.

The establishment of a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution will provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people agency to inform decisions that impact their lives. The involvement of Aboriginal people in decision-making that affects them is fundamental, as is the recognition of the diversity that exists across local and regional areas within Australia. The proposals made to the Australian Government appear to recognise these facts and aim to address the necessity for suitable, formal structures that allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people appropriate access to government, ensuring their concerns and ideas to address them are heard: No one understands the issues better, so they must be provided the power to identify appropriate solutions and how they can be implemented.

In addition, the creation of a Makarrata Commission, which would both supervise a process of agreement-making and oversee a process of truth-telling, is critical to acknowledging and making amends for the dispossession and disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as a result of colonisation and their ongoing mistreatment by those in power. Having such important discussions will not only bring light to the darkest parts of the country’s history; they will function to help us learn and heal from them, too. Further, through negotiated settlement, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can build cultural strength, reclaim control and make other practical changes to improve their daily lives and shape a better future for generations to come based on self-determination.

For more information about the Uluru Statement from the Heart, visit:

Home – Uluru Statement from the Heart

The Statement – A Voice to Parliament – From The Heart

A guide to A Voice to Parliament: 15 to 20-minute course

For more information about the Australian Government’s response to the call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament, visit:

Indigenous Voice (niaa.gov.au)

 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this article may contain images of deceased people.