We lament that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have been seeking to be heard since 1788. Australia has consistently failed to listen. We know too that Australia has not yet wrestled with the truth of our shared history, and has failed to establish treaties with its First Peoples.
We recognise Voice as an important step along the way to hearing and responding to the long standing calls to deeply listen to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the need to establish treaties, and the importance of national truth-telling.
On the 26th of May 2017, the Uluru Statement from the Heart was issued from over 250 delegates gathered at the 2017 First Nations National Constitutional Convention. The conversation at Uluru built on six months of discussions held around the country where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples considered five options presented in the Referendum Council’s discussion paper. When asked what constitutional recognition means to them, First Nations people in attendance told the Council they don’t want recognition if it means a simple acknowledgement, but rather constitutional reform that makes a real difference in their communities.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart calls for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution as well as a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making and truth-telling about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history.
Australia now faces a once in a generation opportunity to move forward on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice with a YES vote in the upcoming referendum for a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
A YES vote for Voice, alongside Treaties and Truth-Telling, will ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are listened to on policy and legislative decisions that affect First Nations peoples and communities. This is a significant step towards true self-determination, creating tangible change on the justice issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
To ensure the referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament is successful, we will need to speak to our leaders, quell the doubts in our churches and in our communities, and show people that every step towards reconciliation is a step towards justice and the enrichment of all Australians.
As Christians across these lands calling together for Voice and justice, we have heard God’s call to seek justice and love mercy (Mic 6:8) and believe that the pursuit of reconciliation and justice is at the heart of our discipleship, as we seek to follow Jesus and love our neighbour.
- Common Grace appreciates the beautiful and gracious invitation that is the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
- We honour the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices that have been speaking up since 1788, and mourn the fact that these voices have often not been listened to or taken seriously.
- We acknowledge the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, peoples and perspectives, and the need to embrace this diversity.
- We understand the need for urgent tangible action on injustice, rejecting tokenism and acknowledging that symbolic gestures alone are insufficient.
- We acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded and recognise the long standing calls to listen to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the need to establish treaties, and the importance of national truth-telling.
- And so we support a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice to parliament as a step along the way to recognising these calls.
- We believe that the pursuit of reconciliation and justice is fundamental to being people of love - the essence of being a follower of Jesus.
- We know that true Reconciliation will be a gift and a blessing that will enrich the lives and cultures of all peoples who live across Australia and will contribute to our collective healing.
- We commit to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to see a successful Yes vote in the upcoming referendum.