The voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must be a national priority

Samaritans CEO

One step forward and two steps backwards summarises the recent rejection of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.  After a well overdue yet promising consultation process spanning over a year, the Uluru Statement was drafted following a three day summit with more than 300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders and experts.  The Statement called for much-needed constitutional reforms to enshrine the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the implementation of an advisory body to bring about socio-economic improvement.

However the positivity of the process, which was conducted by the Referendum Council and funded by the federal government, was undermined following the Cabinet’s rejection of the proposed reforms.

The rejection of the Uluru Statement from the Heart shows utter disrespect from Parliament to acknowledge the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and an unwillingness to support reform that would bring about socio-economic improvement.  It is not until the Australian Government acknowledges and promotes the need to work constructively and respectfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that the consequences of intergenerational traumas can begin to be reconciled.

As a signatory of ACOSS’s Joint Statement, Samaritans is calling on the Australian Parliament to restore hope for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and make their wishes a national priority.  I urge individuals and organisations to stand behind Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at this trying time and to re-affirm the value and power of their voice.  You can do this by signing ACOSS’s call to action to the Prime Minister and Australian Parliament, click here.