Makarrata: the Yolngu word to describe “peace after a dispute.”
When the Uluru Statement from the Heart was released in 2017, many recognised it as a transformative historic moment: an unprecedented, national, Indigenous consensus on Indigenous constitutional recognition.
Many were hopeful that its call for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations Voice, national truth-telling and the establishment of a Makarrata Commission to “supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations” meant that meaningful change had finally arrived in Australia.
Months later, the Turnbull government rejected the Uluru Statement outright, claiming its recommendations were neither “desirable nor capable of winning acceptance” by national referendum.
This rejection presumes that the recognition of Indigenous sovereignty would not be supported by the majority of Australians. But Indigenous sovereignty is not only prized by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. It should be an aspiration for all Australians.
Two years after the convention in Uluru, the belief in, and desire for, the Statement’s capacity for national healing and renewal remains.
With our own Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research; our Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous (Strategy and Services); a solicitor and Uluru Statement leader; and one of the country’s most celebrated historians, we’ll consider the Statement and explore our deep past, what it means today, and where it can lead us tomorrow.
I am a Ngarigu woman from the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales. My research and academic interests focus on languages, particularly endangered Aboriginal and ‘contact languages’, language education, linguistics, anthropology and visual arts. I have extensive experience developing curriculum for Australian schools, focusing on Australian language programs. I studied in Mexico and Japan, developing an interest in those countries’ art, culture and languages. I am also Editor in Chief of ab-Original: Journal of Indigenous Studies and First Nations and First Peoples’ Cultures.
Jaky is a graduate of the University of Sydney (BA(1986)).
I am a Koori woman whose people are from Wagga Wagga, Victoria, South Australia and the Far North Coast of NSW. My work is around data, health and education and how these inform policy and services into the future. I am an epidemiologist by training, I am a Board Member of the Australian Medical Council, and continue to service my country in the Royal Australian Air Force. I am a keen advocate for developing meaningful scholarships and others supported engagement processes to help Aboriginal People come into university and achieve their dreams. I love being here – and recognise acutely the role we must play in progressing equity, justice and belonging in all we do.
Lisa is a graduate of the University of Sydney (MPHlth(1998) Ph.D(Medicine)(2004)).
I am a proud Wiradjuri and Wailwan woman, lawyer and advocate human rights advocate born and raised on my country in Gilgandra western NSW.
I was invited as a working group leader on s 51(xxvi), the Races Power, in the Sydney constitutional dialogue process that culminated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
I currently practice as a criminal defence lawyer based in Sydney and have experience practicing in civil and administrative law.
I completed my postgraduate Juris Doctor from UNSW Law Sydney and was named on the UNSW Law Deans Women of Excellence List. I was the first Aboriginal person to be elected on the UNSW Law Society as Vice-President (Social Justice), where I was the founding director of the UNSW Law First Peoples Moot. I was also the Inaugural recipient of the NSW Indigenous Barristers Trust award.
In 2017, I was selected to attend Harvard University as a global Emerging Leader. On my return to Australia, I took Prime Minister Turnbull to task on Q&A after his dismissal of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
In 2018, Black. Inc. published my Quarterly Essay, Moment of Truth: History and Australia’s Future, an impassioned argument for embracing the Uluru Statement from the Heart. I am an advocate for a reconciled republic. I believe Constitutional Recognition and a genuine Voice for Indigenous Australians must be the just foundations of any future republic.
Mark is a graduate of the University of Sydney (BA(1980) DipEd(1981)).
Banner image by Ondrej Machart on Unsplash
Teela Reid portrait by Jason McCormack