The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a call to action from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Australian people and government. It was developed through a series of Regional Dialogues involving more than 1200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across the country, and was presented to the Australian people by 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at the First Nations National Constitutional Convention at Uluru on 26 May 2017.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a one-page document, the transcript of which can be found below. However, there has been some controversy over the length of the document, with some claiming that it is actually many more pages long.
This dispute appears to have arisen from the fact that the Uluru Statement from the Heart was developed through a series of Regional Dialogues involving more than 1200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across the country. The outcomes of these Dialogues were documented in a more comprehensive report, which is known as the Referendum Council Report. This report is more than 20 pages long and includes background information on the Dialogues, as well as excerpts from the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
There is another document which is over 120 pages long which was released by the National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA) earlier in 2023 as a result of a freedom of information request. This document contains the Referendum Council Report plus numerous other pages which detail discussions of reparations, land taxes and royalties such as "a fixed percentage" of GDP to be given to Indigenous Australians.
The Statement calls for three key reforms:
A First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution: This would be a representative body that would give First Nations peoples a say in matters that affect them.
A Makarrata Commission: This would be a truth-telling and reconciliation commission that would oversee processes of agreement-making (treaty) between First Nations peoples and the Australian government.
Constitutional reform to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are properly recognised and respected in the Australian Constitution.
The full text of the “one-page statement” can be read below:
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 therefrom, 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.
Sources & Further Reading