VOICE. TREATY. TRUTH.
We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.
The Indigenous voice of this country is over 65,000 plus years old.
They are the first words spoken on this continent. Languages that passed down lore, culture and knowledge for over millennia. They are precious to our nation.
It’s that Indigenous voice that include know-how, practices, skills and innovations - found in a wide variety of contexts, such as agricultural, scientific, technical, ecological and medicinal fields, as well as biodiversity-related knowledge. They are words connecting us to country, an understanding of country and of a people who are the oldest continuing culture on the planet.
And with 2019 being celebrated as the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, it’s time for our knowledge to be heard through our voice.
For generations, we have sought recognition of our unique place in Australian history and society today. We need to be the architects of our lives and futures.
For generations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have looked for significant and lasting change.
Voice. Treaty. Truth. were three key elements to the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. These reforms represent the unified position of First Nations Australians.
However, the Uluru Statement built on generations of consultation and discussions among Indigenous people on a range of issues and grievances. Consultations about the further reforms necessary to secure and underpin our rights and to ensure they can be exercised and enjoyed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
It specifically sequenced a set of reforms: first, a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution and second, a Makarrata Commission to supervise treaty processes and truth-telling.
(Makarrata is a word from the language of the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land. The Yolngu concept of Makarrata captures the idea of two parties coming together after a struggle, healing the divisions of the past. It is about acknowledging that something has been done wrong, and it seeks to make things right.)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want their voice to be heard. First Nations were excluded from the Constitutional convention debates of the 1800’s when the Australian Constitution came into force. Indigenous people were excluded from the bargaining table.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always wanted an enhanced role in decision-making in Australia’s democracy.
In the European settlement of Australia, there were no treaties, no formal settlements, no compacts. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people therefore did not cede sovereignty to our land. It was taken away from us. That will remain a continuing source of dispute.
Our sovereignty has never been ceded – not in 1788, not in 1967, not with the Native Title Act, not with the Uluru Statement from the Heart. It coexists with the sovereignty of the Crown and should never be extinguished.
Australia is one of the few liberal democracies around the world which still does not have a treaty or treaties or some other kind of formal acknowledgement or arrangement with its Indigenous minorities.
A substantive treaty has always been the primary aspiration of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander movement.
Critically, treaties are inseparable from Truth.
Lasting and effective agreement cannot be achieved unless we have a shared, truthful understanding of the nature of the dispute, of the history, of how we got to where we stand.
The true story of colonisation must be told, must be heard, must be acknowledged.
But hearing this history is necessary before we can come to some true reconciliation, some genuine healing for both sides.
And of course, this is not just the history of our First Peoples – it is the history of all of us, of all of Australia, and we need to own it.
Then we can move forward together.
Let’s work together for a shared future.
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Past National NAIDOC themes and host cities
- 2018 Because of her, we can! (Sydney)
- 2017 Our Languages Matter (Cairns)
- 2016 Songlines: The living narrative of our nation (Darwin)
- 2015 We all Stand on Sacred Ground: Learn Respect & Celebrate (Adelaide)
- 2014 Serving Country: Centenary & Beyond (Gold Coast)
- 2013 We value the vision: Yirrkala Bark Petitions 1963 (Perth)
- 2012 Spirit of the Tent Embassy: 40 years on (Hobart)
- 2011 Change: the next step is ours (Sydney)
- 2010 Unsung Heroes – Closing the Gap by Leading Their Way (Melbourne)
- 2009 Honouring Our Elders, Nurturing Our Youth (Brisbane)
- 2008 Advance Australia Fair? (Canberra)
- 2007 50 Years: Looking Forward, Looking Blak (Darwin)
- 2006 Respect the Past-Believe in the Future (Cairns)
- 2005 Our Future Begins with Solidarity (Adelaide)
- 2004 Self-determination-Our Community-Our Future-Our Responsibility (Perth)
- 2003 Our Children Our Future (Hobart)
- 2002 Recognition, Rights and Reform (Sydney)
- 2001 Treaty-Let’s Get it Right (Melbourne)
- 2000 Building Pride in Our Communities (Townsville)
- 1999 Respect (Alice Springs)
- 1998 Bringing Them Home (Broome)
- 1997 Gurindji, Mabo, Wik-Three Strikes for Justice-Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum (Brisbane)
- 1996 Survive-Revive-Come Alive (Adelaide)
- 1995 Justice Not Tolerance (Perth)
- 1994 Families Are the Basis of Our Existence-Maintain the Link (Melbourne)
- 1993 Aboriginal Nations-Owners of the Land Since Time Began-Community is Unity (Darwin)
- 1992 Maintain the Dreaming-Our Culture is Our Heritage (Canberra)
- 1991 Community is Unity-Our Future Depends on Us (Sydney)
- 1990 New Decade-Don’t Destroy, Learn and Enjoy Our Cultural Heritage (Tasmania)
- 1989 The Party is Over-Let’s Be Together as an Aboriginal Nation (Darwin)
- 1988 Recognise and Share the Survival of the Oldest Culture in the World (Brisbane)
- 1987 White Australia Has a Black History (Perth)
- 1986 Peace-Not For You-Not For Me But For All (Adelaide)
- 1985 Understanding: It Takes the Two of Us (Melbourne)
- 1984 Take a Journey of Discovery – To the Land My Mother (Adelaide)
- 1983 Let’s Talk-We Have Something to Say
- 1982 Race For Life For a Race
- 1981 Sacred Sites Aboriginal Rights-Other Australians Have Their Rites
- 1980 Treat Us to a Treaty on Land Rights
- 1979 1979 International Year of the Child. What About Our Kids!
- 1978 Cultural Revival is Survival
- 1977 Chains or Change
- 1976 Trucanini Last of her People Born 18?? Died 1876. Buried 1976. Received Her Land Rights at Last
- 1975 Justice for Urban Aboriginal Children
- 1974 Self Determination
- 1973 It’s Time For Mutual Understanding
- 1972 Advance Australia Where?