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First Peoples

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Coming from all points of the southern sky, over 250 Delegates gathered at the 2017 First Nations National Constitutional Convention and today made a historic statement from the heart in hopes of improving the lives of future generations.

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 peoples 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.

At the Regional Dialogues consistent themes emerged and these reflected decades of calls for change. These were used to develop Guiding Principles (see below). A ruler was run across all options raised over the course of the Dialogues and three emerged as meeting all the Principles – these were truth-telling, treaty and a voice to Parliament. These became the focus of discussion at Uluru.

Building on years of work and activism, this process gave Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the chance to have their say on constitutional reform and the model they would support moving forward.

Established by both the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, the Referendum Council were charged with seeking out the views of First Nations people from across the country and reporting back.

Today in Uluru, the spiritual heart of Australia, Delegates – a cross section of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from around Australia – adopted the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ with a standing ovation.

Related Information

Uluru Statement: a quick guide

Final report of the Referendum Council

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