Celebrating NAIDOC Week
Voice, Treaty, Truth, is the theme of this year’s NAIDOC Week and these are the 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.
The reforms are specifically sequenced: 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.
Australia is one of the few liberal democracies around the world which still does not have a treaty, 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 there is 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.
Hearing this history is necessary before we can come to some true reconciliation, some genuine healing for both sides.
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