There is a lot of noise about the coming referendum and the vote concerning the Voice but recently we were talking to a life-long friend, who is engaged in society and interested in this country’s decision-making. In the conversation we realised he had not read the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We don’t want to just add to the noise but quietly encourage Fosterton Retreat people personally look at this request and consider where and how it came to be. I saw a good sign yesterday "Unsure: Learn More."
This statement came out of the largest consensus of First Nations peoples, gathered at Uluru, discussing, proposing, and considering a proposal for substantive change. The ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART is the result of that.
I've long considered Uluru as symbolising the geographical and beating heart of Australia, with artworks reflecting that.
"Journey to the Heartland" Acrylic painting, B Greive, 2011.
If you'd like to hear the statement just read, there are a number on Youtube, one is the Midnight Oil - Uluru Statement from the Heart (Read by First Nations collaborators)
Or it is quoted below, sourced from the Referendum Council
“ULURU STATEMENT FROM THE HEART
We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart: Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago. This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born there from, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown. How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years? With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood. Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future. These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness. We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country. We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution. Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination. We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history. In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”
There are many images of the signed and decorated copy online. Below is Max and some of his co-workers at his previous job, holding the original one back in 2017 when it was taken throughout the country for conversations about this request.
You might have heard there are ‘all these other requests’ but the multi-page document referred to is available too. It documents the process and the content of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and can be read courtesy of the Daily Telegraph.
Max and I have spent time considering, discussing and researching, we have listened to people’s views and in the interest of honesty don’t hesitate to tell you we are both voting yes. We remember when the Mabo Native Title Claim was handed down there were loud voices saying “Watch out they’ll be coming after your homes”. That didn’t happen and we are wary of some of those messages now.
In line with our value of contemplation and as a way of not being sucked into the noise surrounding the issue, on either side, we'd like to encourage you to:
1st learn more by going to the source: the statement and the explanation from the Indigenous people putting this request to us, the people of Australia,
2nd sit in silence for 10 minutes (I use my phone timer) as you listen to the depths of your being or the still small voice within.
We might never know how you vote but we do know it matters.