Weighing in at just 12 paragraphs and 439 words, the Uluru Statement from the Heart lays out a succinct roadmap for recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Australian Constitution. It was put forward to the Australian public on May 26, 2017, following a four-day First Nations National Constitutional Convention held at Uluru consisting of 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders. This year, it was recognised for its importance and awarded the 2021 Sydney Peace Prize.
The Uluru Statement calls for structural reform including constitutional change. Structural reform means establishing a new relationship between First Nations and the Australian nation based on justice and self-determination where Indigenous cultures and peoples can flourish, and we all move forward.
The Uluru Statement puts forward three main actions for reform: “Voice, Treaty, Truth”. The Voice is the starting point, and to many the most significant: the proposal for a First Nations Voice to Parliament protected in the Australian Constitution.
This would take the form of an advisory group of First Nations traditional owners to advise Parliament on structural matters such as policy affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Voice would offer a way to include First Nations Australians’ cultural authority in matters of law that affect them, and constitutionally guarantees them a say in their own affairs.
At the core of the statement is a call for structural changes – and financial systems are part of this structure. It is well known in our sector that there are high levels of entrenched financial stress amongst First Nations communities, a result of multi-generational financial exclusion which is rooted in systemic oppression and trauma.
To turn the tide on this trend of entrenched financial stress, it is imperative that Reconciliation ensures that financial systems and policies work to benefit the needs of First Nations communities, and that this work is guided by The Voice – the advisory body – to make sure it is structured and delivered in a way that is culturally sensitive and safe. Indigenous financial counsellors and financial capability workers play an important role in elevating those voices and experiences.
This is why we feel it is particularly important to ensure the First Nations Voice to Parliament is protected in the Australian Constitution – it has the power to push forward culturally appropriate financial policies and approaches to address the disparity between First Nations people and non-Indigenous Australians.
What can we, both as individuals and as a sector, do?
- Read the statement and some of the questions frequently asked about it here.
- Add your voice and become a supporter of the Uluru Statement here.
- Contact your local MP to urge their support here.
- Disseminate in-language resources to others – Written translation in 63 languages here and in podcast format here.