The Australian Constitution, Australia’s founding legal document enacted in 1901, does not mention Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and contains clauses that allow racial discrimination.
Successive federal governments have been considering changes to the Constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Australia’s First People for many years, but little progress has been made.
Given that sovereignty was never ceded by the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations of this country, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reject the legality of the Australian Constitution and have long called for Treaty/ies.
In 2017 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people gathered at Uluru to hold an historic First Nations National Constitutional Convention. The meeting was the culmination of a series of First Nations Regional Dialogues held across the country, organised by the Indigenous Steering Committee of the Referendum Council.
This gathering produced the Statement from the Heart, calling for a First Nations Voice to be enshrined in the Constitution, and a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.
The Federal Government subsequently rejected the statement. It then announced a Joint Parliamentary Sub-committee, co-chaired by Senator Pat Dodson, to consider the Uluru statement in the context of other previous proposals for constitutional reform. The Sub-committee released its Final Report in November 2018 recommending that the Government explore the option of a "Voice to Parliament" and initiate a process of co-design with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
At the Constitutional Convention, a Uluru Position Working Group was elected to progress the reforms called for in the Uluru Statement. Visit 1 Voice Uluru to learn more