Last week, we marked the fifteenth anniversary of the Apology to members of the Stolen Generations. That was a special moment in Australian history. Flowing from the Apology was a commitment by successive Governments to take action to “close the gap” in a number of areas where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience significant disadvantage. The most recent report for the Closing the Gap initiative, released last year, indicates there has been little progress on most indicators. Many First Nations leaders say that things will not change until they have a greater part to play in deciding what action should be taken to address First Nations disadvantage.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart proposed three important steps to enable First Nations peoples in Australia to take an active part in making the changes that could bring about justice and dignity – A Voice to Parliament, Truth Telling and Treaty.
Later this year, a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Constitution and to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the Constitution will be held.
Professor Tom Calma AO used his speech when announced as Senior Australian of the Year 2023 to outline the case for a Voice to Parliament. It is well worth a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jghcAR_wR40
The Yes campaign will be officially launched this week. We have been advised that a range of resources to help you to get involved in the grassroots campaign will be released in the next couple of weeks.
A message of support for the Yes campaign from church and faith community leaders, including Australia’s Catholic Bishops, will soon be released.
Our office will share more information with you as the campaign gains momentum. Why not start planning your involvement now? Sharing the Tom Calma video with family, friends, work colleagues, parish and school communities and your networks would be a good start.