United in support of the Uluru Statement
May 30, 2022
The Uniting Church has signed a historic Joint Resolution of Australian religious leaders in support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Gathering in Sydney on the fifth anniversary of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, representatives of nine Australian religious bodies jointly called for immediate bipartisan action to hold a referendum on a First Nations voice to Parliament.
Uniting Church President Rev Sharon Hollis was the signatory to the Joint Resolution on behalf of the Uniting Church Assembly.
“The Uluru Statement from the Heart has been offered by First Peoples as a gift of grace and an invitation to the Australian community to walk with them towards a more just future and nation. It is time we answer the call,” said Rev Hollis.
“As the Uniting Church we are committed to heeding the voices of First Peoples through a binding covenantal relationship with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress which has sat at the heart of our Church for almost 30 years.
“Through this relationship we know of the transformational wisdom, insights and leadership of First Peoples. These would be a gift to Parliament and our nation.”
A constitutionally guaranteed First Nations voice is one of the key asks of the Uluru Statement from the Heart which represents a historic consensus of First Nations people. A constitutionally enshrined voice would help shape policy directed towards First Nations people. The other is that a Makarrata Commission be established for treaty making and truth-telling.
"There have been many processes and much work completed. The one thing left to do is to let the Australian people have their say," reads the resolution.
"Indigenous Australians must be now afforded their rightful place in the Australian constitution."
The Joint Resolution marks a decisive moment of community consensus across lines of faith, tradition and belief.
It was also signed by the Sikh Council, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Australian National Imams Council, Hindu Council, Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Australian Sangha Association, National Council of Churches in Australia and the Anglican Church of Australia.
Bhante Sujato, who signed the resolution on behalf of the Australian Buddhist community, told the ABC that now was the time to build a "better democracy".
"Sometimes people from the outside think that all of these religions are so different, but the people within it don't really see those differences as so important. For us, what matters is compassion, empathy and humanity.
"We've got to create a broad consensus among the political class as we have already among the religious leaders."
Arrernte and Kalkadoon woman Rachel Perkins, filmmaker and daughter of Aboriginal activist Charlie Perkins, gave a keynote speech at the celebration which was the inaugural event of the Radical Centre Reform Lab at Macquarie Law School.
“You have transcended differences of belief, culture and tradition to agree on this one true thing: that a constitutional voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is ‘necessary, right, and reasonable’.”
“That you have united in support of this reform speaks to your moral conviction about the justice of this proposal, your empathy and generosity of spirit, and to the ability of the Uluru Statement to bring Australians together.”
The Uniting Church has supported the Uluru Statement from the Heart since it was offered as a gift to the Australian people in 2017. It was endorsed by the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress and was referenced in the UCA Assembly’s decision to recognise First Peoples as sovereign in 2018.
Associate General Secretary Rob Floyd was present at the event and signed the resolution on behalf of the President and the Uniting Church Assembly. The event was also attended by Frontier Services National Director Jannine Jackson, First Peoples Strategy and Engagement Manager for the NSW/ACT Synod Nathan Tyson and Rev Seung Jae Yeon who is a Panel Member for the Walking Together as First and Second Peoples Circle.
This study guide on the Uluru Statement is available as a resource for the whole Church.
Text of the Joint Resolution
On this day in 2017, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples came together at Uluru and asked Australians to walk with them towards a better future.
Through the Uluru Statement from the Heart, Indigenous Australians asked for constitutional recognition through a constitutionally guaranteed voice in their own affairs.
As leaders representing diverse religious communities, we declare our support of the Uluru Statement and its call for a First Nations Voice guaranteed by the Constitution.
We endorse this reform as necessary, right and reasonable.
Indigenous Australians must be now afforded their rightful place in the Australian Constitution.
There have been many processes and much work completed.
The one thing left to do is let the Australian people have their say.
We call on political leaders to take immediate bipartisan action to hold a referendum on a First Nations voice.