ERC Media Release - Thursday 11th March 2021

It’s time for all communities to speak up for indigenous voice and dignity!

Edmund Rice Centre director, Mr Phil Glendenning AM has today issued a call for Australian communities that share a thirst for building right relations.
We are living in a time when so many societal injustices are being named and addressed in an effort to set right the underlying problems and preconceptions that sustain them. In many ways this is exciting and gives us hope for a better society. And yet time and again our nation has passed up on opportunities to take the first structural step to set right the injustices against the original peoples of these lands which today we call Australia.

I urge all Australians to look to, to consider and to strive to hold up the Uluru Statement from the Heart. It is a letter written to us out of the wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples – penned by those who gathered in the Centre at Uluru in May 2017 for the First Nations National Constitutional Convention.

The Statement is not long. It outlines elegantly the need for three key elements: Voice, Treaty and Truth-telling.

Voice is the call for amending the Constitution to include the establishment and role of an Indigenous body that would voice Indigenous perspectives to the Australian Parliament. That such a body should be “enshrined” in the Constitution is to ensure that it be enduring, independent and fearless, such that it cannot be simply abolished or silenced at any time by a vote in Parliament from the Government of the day.
Treaty speaks to the need for agreements between Governments in Australia and the traditional owners of the land – which are negotiated and lived and affirmed in recognition of the High Court’s Mabo and Wik determinations - which make clear that First Nations sovereignty was never ceded.
And truth-telling indicates that any pathway to true post-conflict social reconciliation can only be uncovered if there is a truth-filled and endemic and society-wide recognition by both parts as to the abuses and injustices that have been perpetrated across the centuries by the colonising power and foreign nation or nations, against those whom we have sought to dispossess through the structures and malign mechanisms of our colonisation.

Presently there is an opportunity for individuals and communities of all types from throughout Australia to speak up in support of Voice – and to give their opinion. This is the Australia’s Government’s co-design process on Indigenous Voice. In January the Co-Design report was released and now, up until 31st March 2021, responses are invited to let Government know what we think.

As Edmund Rice Centre we have spent time considering this, and we have now submitted our response which can be read on our website. But we would like to see as many communities and individuals as possible, join us in standing up proudly with our black brother and sisters, and affirming with strength our deep and abiding respect for them, for their cultures and traditions, our acknowledgment of their sovereignty over these lands and particularly our resolve to defend their right to an unsilenceable, Constitutionally-enshrined Voice to the Australian Parliament.

Together, we need to make sure that all in Government can hear the roar that underlies this First Nations Voice. Please join us today at this crossroads, in choosing to speak in favour of the pathway for our nation, that can best lead us to journey together in a spirit of mutual respect.

For interview or comment contact: Phil Glendenning 0419-01-758

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