Uluru statement


The Uniting Church has urged the Australian government to listen to the voice of First Peoples and support the Uluru Statement.

In May this year, Indigenous leaders met for three days at Uluru to discuss their approach to Constitutional Recognition.

The meeting developed the Uluru Statement of the Heart, which called for the establishment of a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.

But the Turnbull government rejected the recommendation in October, as it believes the proposed body would be seen as a “third chamber of parliament”.

Church agencies Uniting Vic.Tas and UnitingCare Australia joined 2500 other signatories in calling on the Australian government to adopt the Uluru Statement.

Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress chairperson Rev Dennis Corowa and Uniting Church president Stuart McMillan also signed the statement.

The signatories believe the government must undertake structural reforms so that First Peoples will have a representative voice in parliament.

Mr Corowa said the government has missed a historic opportunity to honour the sovereignty of First Peoples.

“They asked us what we wanted. We told them and they just knocked us back. Why did they ask in the first place if they weren’t prepared to listen?” Mr Corowa said.

“We have a government that is doing nothing and playing around with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”

Mr McMillan expressed disappointment at the government’s ‘weak’ response. He said the Uniting Church has shown that progress on Indigenous representation is possible. 

“We in the Uniting Church changed our own Constitution in 2009 to recognise prior ownership of First Peoples, and have regulated for Indigenous representation in the major deliberative meetings of our church,” Mr McMillan said.

“I’m very disappointed that 50 years after Australia gave the First Australians a vote Malcolm Turnbull’s government has refused them a voice.

“Instead of buckling pre-emptively to intolerance, the government should be leading for the future. We don’t need a dead hand on the Uluru Statement from the Heart.”

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