The Uluru Statement From The Heart is the most important, and most certainly the most unifying document ever to emerge from the Indigenous people of Australia. Following the profound disappointments of the past 15 to 20 years, which included John Howard’s abolishment of ATSIC, (aided and abetted by right-wing thug Mark Latham) and his subsequent ruthless application of the ‘Intervention’, the treatment of Indigenous people in the country seemed to have taken some giant leaps backwards.
Howard was delighted when Latham, as the leader of the opposition, demanded that the Government abolish ATSIC, and he did so soon after. ATSIC was established by the Hawke Government and passed into legislation in 1989 under Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gerry Hand. It was of course, opposed by the Conservative opposition of the time. ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Commission) was not perfect, but it gave a voice to Indigenous people throughout the country. I have covered the history of ATSIC and the Intervention in this previous blog https://wp.me/pDrbM-gl so I will not go into these subjects here, but suffice to say that Aboriginal Australia has few friends in the conservative side of politics, and that the Labor Party did little to nothing to reverse Howard’s destructive policies when it governed from 2007 to 2013.
Back into the hands of the the Abbott Government, the contempt continued, and I was fast losing hope as the continuation of the intervention, cuts to the Indigenous budget, and the withdrawal of support funding for remote homelands settlements peppered the Abbott period. Malcom Turnbull’s overthrow of Abbot gave some hope for a more enlightened approach, but whatever Turnbull stood for personally was never revealed publicly, as he kow-towed to the right wing rabble in his party.
I was not hopeful, therefore, when the summit at the Yulara Resort was convened in 2017; not only because of doubts about support from the Liberal Party, but because of internal divisions within the Indigenous people themselves.
One of the main divisions for example, emanates from the wish of a considerable body of the Indigenous voice for a declaration of sovereignty from white rule. I thought this division would prevent any consensus emerging from the conference. To my delight the eminently sensible and sober Uluru Statement From The Heart emerged.
Within days it was dismissed by Malcolm Turnbull as a ‘third voice to the Parliament’, which was not true, as it asked only for an advisory role on any legislation which could be construed as having an effect on Aboriginal people. The most comprehensive statement, issued by the most eminent gathering of Aboriginal people in the nation’s history, was slapped aside with contempt.
To their credit, the Labor Party had promised to accept the Uluru statement had they won the recent election, but their unexpected loss sees the country stuck in the same old condescending morass towards the indigenous people they have been relegated to for the past two hundred plus years.
Here is a link to the background and the process leading up to the Uluru Statement, it’s release, and the subsequent reaction.
In an upcoming blog I shall draw on research to illustrate the deep spiritual connections to Uluru as recorded and documented by Charles Mountford from the 1940’s to the 1960’s.