When Australia voted on the referendum to give Indigenous Australians the vote they did so overwhelmingly.
Advocate Thomas Mayor believes that if Australians were given the chance to vote on accepting the Uluru Statement from the Heart they would once again support the Indigenous people of this land.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart was the united outcome in 2017 of the nationwide First Nations Dialogues run by the Referendum Council that sought two outcomes. Firstly, that a First Nations voice (a representative body to give advice to parliament) is enshrined in the Constitution; and secondly, that a Makarrata commission should be formed to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations, and truth-telling to the nation.
Important for this country
Since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was presented on 26 May 2017, Thomas Mayor has been travelling Australia talking about what this means not only for Indigenous Australians but more broadly about how important it is for this country to be able to move forward and heal.
He was in Mullumbimby last week at Politics in the Pub explaining that the Uluru Statement is an appeal to the Australian people.
‘I haven’t stopped since the Uluru Statement from the Heart was put forward,’ he told The Echo. ‘There has been a great shift coming for a long time that is gaining momentum.’
However, as with previous attempts at seeking justice and recognition for Indigenous people of this country, the Liberal/National government has rejected the statement.
‘Nationally there has been overwhelming support,’ says Mr Mayor, ‘but the government is so comfortable in its status quo there are some of them that are quite ignorant in their objections – objections that are based on lies.
‘One of the great flaws of our democracy is that a few loud voices in parliament are holding up this long-overdue reform.
‘We are not asking for a third chamber in parliament,’ he said. ‘We are asking for constitutional recognition so that they [the government] can get the policy affecting our people right. Even a conservative former chief justice of the High Court has acknowledged that we are not equal and a constitutionally enshrined First Nations voice is reasonable and achievable.
‘It requires leadership from parliamentarians. If they take the leadership they can make it happen.
‘But if the leadership isn’t there then the people need to vote them out. The opposition and the Greens have supported the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full.
‘But the Liberal/National party government – they have walked away recently and I hope voters will walk away from them.
‘I encourage supporters to take initiative; that is the key,’ says Mr Mayor, who is encouraging everyone to take action at all levels, big and small.
‘I am working at all levels I can. I’ve taken it to the remotest communities in Australia and the Torres Strait, to big cities, to people on the left and the right. We have support across the political spectrum; these are the ingredients for change. We need our supporters to take the time and have the courage to have conversations with the unconverted. Help us build this movement.’