The Journey to the Uluru Statement .
The Uluru Statement From The Heart (Uluru Statement) represents a historic consensus of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in seeking constitutional change to enable a Voice to Parliament in the Constitution.
The journey towards the Uluru Statement has been long and challenging. In 1937, Yorta Yorta elder William Cooper petitioned King George VI calling for representation in parliament. The Yirrkala Bark Petitions (1963), the Larrakia Petition (1972) and the Barunga Statement (1988) are just some examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s efforts to find a fair place in the Australian nation.
Australia is the only country in the world yet to formally recognise its Indigenous people in the form of a treaty or constitutional recognition, unlike our key allies such as Canada and New Zealand.
In 2007, Prime Minister John Howard announced that if he was to win the 2007 Election, within 18 months, he would hold a referendum to change the constitution to recognise the “special status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as the first peoples of our nation”
In 2010, Prime Minister Julia Gillard established the Expert Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution, beginning a renewed national focus on finding a path towards a referendum.
This political focus culminated in the establishment of the Referendum Council in 2015 by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
The Referendum Council built on previous work done by other committees and reports and was tasked with engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on their views on real and meaningful recognition in the Constitution.
The Council established 12 First Nations Regional Dialogues, which engaged over 1200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates on a number of existing proposals for constitutional change.
These Regional Dialogues undertook extensive deliberation of the proposals and culminated in the four-day First Nations National Constitutional Convention at Uluru in May 2017. The Convention brought together 250 Indigenous representatives from across the country to reach a consensus on the most meaningful and appropriate way to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the Constitution – a Voice to Parliament.