Voice. Treaty. Truth. It's Union business
The Voice campaign is about providing safe workplaces for our members. As we step toward reconciliation and a Voice to Parliament, we take a step toward addressing racism. Ensuring safety and respect at work is inherent in Union values. In fact, our Statement of Safety and Respect states that we commit to ensuring our spaces (including online) are free of all forms of harassment, including sexual harassment and racism. I know that the Voice is not the panacea to end racism against First Nations people, but it’s a vital first step.
As a Union and as a movement, we see the power of the collective every day. We see and understand that together we achieve great things for our profession and our students. It’s clear to me that Reconciliation and Voice. Treaty. Truth. Are Union business - we must be involved:
- for our First Nations members and students
- in Closing the Gap
- to make a difference
- for safe and healthy workplaces
- for our profession.
YOUR CALL TO ACTION
We walked together in 1967. We are asking to walk together again.
The Referendum Council recommended that a referendum be held as soon as practicable to enshrine a Voice to Parliament and commence the journey to Voice, Treaty and Truth. The Referendum Council was confident that the detail on a Voice would be worked out after a referendum supervised by the Australian parliament.
A 2018 parliamentary committee on the other hand recommended that there is more ‘meat on the bones’ of a Voice before can go to a referendum. Now, in 2021, the government’s handpicked committee chosen to design the voice has released a report. It has asked the Australian people for their views. And following this report we believe there is plenty of information about what a Voice may look like and it is time for the government to put the Voice to the Australian people in a referendum.
The Minister of Indigenous Affairs Ken Wyatt banned consideration of Uluru through the Terms of Reference for the co-design groups. Minister Wyatt has sought to ignore First Nations and public support for constitutional enshrinement. The Interim Report avoids the issue by saying, incorrectly, that the line between Parliament and the Government is thin.
That’s why we need you now!
There is a real risk is that constitutional recognition will be separated from the idea of a First Nations Voice. This risks the government putting in place a legislative Voice and pursuing a symbolic form of constitutional recognition that does not accord with the wishes of First Nations people themselves.
What is a First Nations Voice to Parliament?
A First Nations Voice to Parliament is the first reform called for in the Uluru Statement. This is a Constitutionally-enshrined body of First Nations with a direct line to Federal Parliament, able to influence laws and policies that affect First Nations communities first-hand – at the point they originate. A constitutional Voice is both symbolic and substantive recognition.
What is the Uluru Statement From the Heart?
The Uluru Statement is an invitation from First Nations Peoples issued to all Australians on 26 May 2017. It calls for legal and structural reforms to reshape the relationship between First Nations Peoples and the Australian population.
The Statement calls for 2 substantive changes: Voice and Makarrata.
1. Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution.
2. A Makarrata Commission to supervise:
1. Agreement making.
2. Truth telling about our history.
The Statement calls for real and lasting structural change to our current systems of authority and decision making, rather than surface changes to existing systems. It is a path forward for justice and self-determination for First Nations Peoples in this country.
Why do we need to change the Constitution?
The Voice needs to be enshrined in the Constitution of Australia to ensure it remains a permanent part of our democracy. Constitutional enshrinement can only be achieved through a referendum. A referendum is the mechanism by which Australians can change the Constitution. All Australians of voting age will have the opportunity to vote at the ballot box in support of enshrining a First Nations Voice into the Australian Constitution. A legislated Voice - made by a law, or passing a bill through Parliament - would have the authority of the Australian people if the vote was successful. This would make it more difficult for a future parliament to abolish the Voice without consulting First Nations or being subject to scrutiny.
Do other countries have a First Nations Voice?
Many liberal democracies with Indigenous populations have mechanisms aimed at improving Indigenous participation in the work of the parliament and the government of the day. These mechanisms take many forms. It might be Indigenous parliaments that report to the main parliament such as in Finland, Sweden or Norway or reserved seats for Indigenous peoples.
Walk with us to a better Australia
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is an invitation to the Australian people to work with First Nations people to create a better future. It is a gift: a strategic roadmap to peace, where First Nations peoples take a rightful place in our own land. It is a moment where all Australians can come together to realise our nation’s true potential.
This roadmap, set out in the Uluru Statement, is Voice, Treaty and Truth. The path to a better Australia. But we need your voice to get there. We need you, your family, friends, organisations, and communities to rally together and to help us make this a reality. The time is now.
We are calling on all Australians to walk with us in support of a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution.
A First Nations Voice, protected by the Constitution, will mean that agreement-making and truth-telling can finally be done on equal terms. With Voice, we can begin the journey of coming together after a struggle – Makarrata.
We are the Uluru Dialogue. We are a group of First Nations people from across Australia that have the cultural responsibility for progressing the reforms called for in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We are based at the UNSW Indigenous Law Centre (ILC), Australia’s oldest and only Indigenous legal research unit, that has supported much of the foundational work that led to the Uluru Statement. Our work is grounded in the cultural authority and mandate of the Uluru Statement and is informed by the ILC’s research on law reform.
Now, almost four years on from the issuing of the Uluru Statement to the Australian people, we are asking for your help. We’ve put together this Supporter Kit as part of a national education project on the first reform: enshrining a Voice to Parliament in the Australian Constitution.
We need you to lead conversations in your own community, through your networks, workplaces, into schools and around family dinner tables. We need you to use your voice, so that a First Nations Voice can be protected and listened to for generations to come. For our voices to be a fundamental part of the national story.
You can make a difference and you can make it now. It is we, the Australian people, who have the power to unlock the Australian Constitution. It is we, the Australian people, walking together, who can lead governments to take the necessary steps to enact lasting and meaningful change.
We need you to show the government and the parliament that the Australian people are ready to accept the invitation of the Uluru Statement to walk together to a better Australia.
We can’t wait any longer.
We need you now. Lend us your Voice.
Aunty Pat Anderson AO, Professor Megan Davis & Roy Ah-See
Co-Chairs, Uluru Dialogue
How will a Voice to Parliament help?
A Voice will mean the Government will have better quality information about First Nations communities and issues, delivered directly by a body of First Nations representatives. Detailed and nuanced information from communities themselves will result in better quality laws and policies. This will mean resource allocation is more accurately targeted. Better laws mean improved outcomes - across all metrics, including health, housing, criminal justice and education.
Do First Nations Peoples support this reform?
Yes. The reform comes from those First Nations represented in the First Nations Regional Dialogues and the nation convention. It was an act of self-determination. Twelve large meetings, or Dialogues, took place across Australia and culminated in a National Convention at Uluru, with over 250 delegates representing those vast Dialogues and communities. Together, those delegates concepted, wrote and signed the Uluru Statement, agreeing to its components and reforms.
When would a referendum be? How do we make it happen?
The date of the referendum is decided by the Government. To make this happen, the Government will introduce a bill that will allow the referendum if the bill passes both houses of parliament. The date will then be set, the question on the ballot paper finalised, and an education program will commence to make sure Australians are fully informed at the ballot box. All Australians over 18 will vote.