Truth-telling is fundamental for Australia to be reconciled. The growing momentum to establish an Australian truth-telling processes aim to promote awareness of the historical and ongoing impact of colonisation, and the dispossession and trauma experienced by Australia’s First Nations, and encourage all Australians to come together towards unity and equity.
“… a nation cannot recognise people they do not know or understand. The Aboriginal experience in Australian history is critical to recognition. From pre-contact to invasion, from conciliation to the frontier wars and killings, from compulsory racial segregation to assimilation, from self-determination to the return to neo-paternalism, it is time now to make peace and the Uluru reforms are the road map to peace.” (Professor Megan Davis)
The Uluru Statement from the Heart states:
“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.”
Truth-telling about past injustices has long been used in the international sphere as a starting point for coming to terms with a period of conflict, upheaval or injustice. Formal processes of truth-telling, such as truth and reconciliation commissions, exist in numerous countries around the world. The 2008 Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission aimed to mend the deep rifts between Aboriginal peoples and the settler society that engineered a system that removed their children.
What’s a Makarrata Commission?
Makarrata is a Yolgnu word meaning ‘a coming together after a struggle’. A Makarrata Commission would have two roles: supervising a process of agreement-making, and overseeing a process of truth-telling.
What is happening with the Uluru Statement today?
The Federal Government initially rejected the statement. It since formed a Joint Select Parliamentary Committee (JSCCR), co-chaired by Senator Pat Dodson and Mr Julian Leeser MP, to consider a referendum question on the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution. Read the final report of the Committee, published in November 2018. Read Reconciliation NSW’s submission to the JSCCR.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has allocated $7.3 million in the 2019 Budget to investigate a model for a First Nations Voice. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has committed any future Labor Government to a referendum on a First Nations’ Voice to Parliament in its first term.
One of the key challenges in any referendum campaign is strong grassroots organisation. We have suggested a number of actions you can take to grow the movement in support of the Uluru Statement and Voice Treaty Truth.