The call of the Uluru Statement from the Heart for a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament was powerfully renewed through a number of speeches at the National Museum by Noel Pearson, Dean Parkin and Vicki Morta, titled “It’s Time for True Constitutional Recognition”.
The speeches, organised by From the Heart, the campaign for a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament, showed that the call for a referendum on a Voice to Parliament and true constitutional recognition is a call deep from the heart of our nation.
Mr Noel Pearson, Founder of the Cape York Institute gave the headland speech, titled “It’s Time for True Constitutional Recognition”. The speech outlined the past calls for recognition by our political leaders, the long history of our nation without recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the need for true constitutional recognition through a Voice to Parliament.
Mr Pearson said, “Up until now non-indigenous Australians have told themselves that these 250 years of European history is the only thing that matters to Australia. This is but the blink of an eye of Australia’s story and recognition will bridge 65,000 years of precolonial history, cultures and languages with these 250 years.”
“Australia doesn’t make sense without recognition. Australia is incomplete without recognition. How could there be an Australia without its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island indigenous peoples? As long as its indigenous peoples remain unrecognised then Australia is an absurdity. A nation missing its most vital heart,” Mr Pearson said.
Mr Pearson also proposed a pathway forward for a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament for the people of Australia.
Mr Pearson said, “Let us complete the legislative design of the Voice and produce an exposure draft of the Bill so that all parliamentarians and the members of the Australian public can see exactly what the Voice entails. Let us set the Bill aside and settle on the words of constitutional amendment that recognises Indigenous Australians and upholds the Constitution, and put the amendment to a referendum of the Australian people at the next best opportunity.”
The powerful speech by Noel Pearson was introduced by the From the Heart Director, Dean Parkin, who outlined the challenges of current policy development across Australia, and the need for fair and practical change through a Voice to Parliament.
Mr Parkin said, “There is no policy area in our nation in greater need of disruption than Indigenous affairs. When Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were finally asked, at the back-end of a decade-long process, what meaningful constitutional recognition meant to us, we delivered the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its call for a constitutionally-enshrined Voice. We brushed constitutional symbolism aside and reached for a practical structural reform that has a real impact on lives.”
Mr Parkin also said that the proposal for a legislated Voice will not satisfy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Mr Parkin said, “We are told of the fears of a failed referendum, about what that will do to our nation and the place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within it. In other words, in order to avoid failure, we are better off never trying in the first place. This is a dismal argument that shrinks into its own self-defeatism.”
The speeches were concluded with a voice from the community, Vicki Morta, an Integrated Rating onboard the RTM Weipa. Vicki spoke powerfully of the need for a Voice, not just for Australia, but for the community in which she lives.
Ms Morta said, “Our First Nations people have struggled for many years dealing with the impacts of health problems, the education system, land rights and the rights to having a Voice enshrined in the Constitution. We want control of our community, we want to deal with our children and issues our way. This is why the people in our community want their voices to be heard.”
“We can change the way our children should be educated, we can change the justice system and teach our children our way. We can work together. Where us Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders we can help make a change; to better the future for our children and our children’s children.”
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About From the Heart
From the Heart shows Australians that an Indigenous Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution is fair, is practical, and that it is time that we make this change in the interests of our shared future.