The push for a constitutionally recognised Indigenous voice to parliament has won Australia’s only international prize for peace.
The Sydney Peace Prize said the Uluru Statement from the Heart was selected by a jury out of 200 nominations from the community for being a “powerful and historic offering of peace”.
The committee said it was awarded the honour “For bringing together Australia’s First Nations Peoples around a clear and comprehensive agenda for healing and peace within our Nation and delivering self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, that enables Australia to move into the future united and confident”.
Pat Anderson, Professor Megan Davis and Noel Pearson, who worked with the First Nations community to deliver the Statement in 2017, accepted the prize in a ceremony at Sydney Town Hall on Thursday.
In a keynote address at a second ceremony at Melbourne Town hall yesterday, Davis said accepting the Sydney Peace Prize was a “great honour”.
“The Uluṟu Statement from the Heart has emerged from a constitutional recognition process in Australia that seeks to imbue the Voice of First Nations people in the constitutional system, the ancient and modern politics of Australia, to anchor a process of agreement making and truth telling,” Davis said.
In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.
The Uluru Statement, which was was delivered in May 2017 and signed by 250 First Nations delegates, is an invitation to all Australians to ‘walk’ with First Nations people and calls for legal and structural reforms to reshape the relationship between First Nations peoples and the Australian population.
It calls for two substantive changes: The Voice to Parliament and Makarrata Commission for the purpose of treaty-making and truth-telling.
“The exigency of the Voice to Parliament is that the status quo isn’t working for all of our people. Closing the gap is not working and in many areas going backwards.” Davis added.
The Australian Government has committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart. As part of that, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced a referendum will be held in this term of Parliament to enshrine an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice in the Australian Constitution.
This evening, our Co-Chairs Professor Megan Davis and Pat Anderson AO accepted the 2021/22 Sydney Peace Prize for the Uluru Statement from the Heart. (1/2)#HistoryIsCalling #UluruStatement #StayTrue2Uluru pic.twitter.com/IkyqdxtnnM
— ulurustatement (@ulurustatement) November 10, 2022
In the announcement he proposed a draft question to be put to the Australian people. The draft question asks: “Do you support an alteration to the Constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?”
In ending her keynote address Davis invited Australians to walk with First Nations people for a better future.
“In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future,” she said.
Main image by Angelo Failla/Flickr.