City of Newcastle advocates for Indigenous constitutional recognition

22 Mar 2022

City of Newcastle (CN) is calling for the community to come together in support of a First Nations Voice in the Australian Constitution.

Council endorsed a Notice of Motion at Tuesday’s Ordinary Council Meeting in support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which calls for real and practical change in Australia through the establishment of a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament, with a proposed referendum to be held in the next term of Federal Parliament.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said now was the time to work together to bring about meaningful change.

“City of Newcastle are proud of Newcastle’s rich Indigenous heritage and established the Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee to ensure that acknowledgment of the original custodians of our land is embedded in all that we do at Council,” Cr Nelmes said.

“We wholeheartedly support the Uluru Statement from the Heart and its call for a constitutionally recognised voice that would enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives.

“City of Newcastle will partner with Guraki, Local Government NSW and From the Heart to hold public forums in Newcastle to raise community awareness of the issues and further these important conversations, which are crucial in Australia becoming a unified nation reconciled with its history.”

Chair of the Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee Luke Russell said now is the time for Australians to come together through a referendum and officially acknowledge the traditional custodians.

“A Voice to Parliament would give the Australian Government the opportunity to collectively make policies with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, rather than for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” Mr Russell said.

“Together with City of Newcastle, Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee is well placed to further these conversations within our community to help educate, inform and bring about change.”

Federal Member for Newcastle, Sharon Claydon said the Uluru Statement from the Heart is a generous gift to the nation – inviting us to walk together with First Nations people in a movement to build a better future.

“Fifty-five years ago, the nation backed in the 1967 Referendum to change the Constitution so that the Commonwealth could make laws in respect of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and included them in the consensus,” Ms Claydon said.

“Now we have the chance to make good on the unfinished business that remains.

“The time for a referendum on a First Nations Voice is now, and it’s great to see the City of Newcastle getting involved in the campaign to ensure we get this done.”

Councillor Deahnna Richardson said a Voice to Parliament is the structural reform required to give First Nations Australians the agency we need when it comes to decisions about our people, our culture and our lands, but we cannot move forward without a consensus among all Australians.

"With just over one in four people still undecided about a Voice to Parliament, these are crucial conversations that we need to have," Cr Richardson.

"It's been a long time coming, but it's definitely time."

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