New policy program established to consider the Big Ideas for Indigenous Recognition in the Uluru Statement from the Heart

The PM Glynn Institute has established a new policy program with Uphold & Recognise to develop policy options on how the recommendations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart might be implemented.

The policy unit was established at the end of 2017 and will develop policy proposals on each of the key ideas in the Uluru Statement for public release by the end of June.

Uphold & Recognise is an Indigenous-led, non-profit organisation that promotes discussion of how Australia can recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution while upholding the democratic principles which underpin our foundational legal document.

Members of the Uphold & Recognise board include Rachel Perkins (Blackfella films), Geoffrey Winters (Chalk & Beherndt), Nolan Hunter (Kimberley Land Council), Adam Bray (Telstra) and Sean Gordon (Uphold & Recognise’s chairman).

The board also includes David Allinson, the CEO of Uphold & Recognise, and Damien Freeman, Principal Policy Adviser at the PM Glynn Institute, who founded Uphold & Recognise with Julian Leeser MP in 2015.

“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Uphold and Recognise on this important issue”, Dr Michael Casey, Director of the PM Glynn Institute, said.

“It is also a very important for Australian Catholic University. The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Greg Craven, made a noted submission to the Referendum Council last year, and we are delighted to be able to continue to support Indigenous Recognition in this collaboration with our friends at Uphold and Recognise.

“I hope the options that are developed for implementing the Uluru Statement’s recommendations will be a helpful contribution to the discussion.”

Uphold and Recognise CEO, David Allinson, said “The ideas that the policy unit is investigating are ideas that over 200 Indigenous leaders called for when they met at Uluru in May last year.

“The role of our policy unit is to demonstrate that there are practical, workable and achievable options for Indigenous leaders to consider as they develop their preferred approach for implementing the Uluru Statement.”

Uphold and Recognise advocates for the reforms proposed by the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Referendum Council’s final report, which call for Indigenous Australians to be empowered to take responsibility for their own affairs. They make three main suggestions:

  1. A Voice to Parliament will ensure Indigenous peoples have a constitutionally guaranteed say in the laws and policies that affect them. The Constitution gives Parliament the power to make special laws for Indigenous people (such as native title and heritage protection), and so it is right that the Constitution should require Parliament to consult with Indigenous people before making special laws about them, although this should not amount to giving them a veto over legislation.
  2. A Makarrata Commission will help Australians ‘come together after our struggle’ to reflect on our history openly and truthfully, and to oversee local and regional agreement-making with Indigenous peoples - much like how the Waitangi Tribunal has helped reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous New Zealanders.
  3. A Declaration of Recognition, outside of the Constitution, would give expression to what it means to be an Australian today. Australia's Indigenous heritage, our British institutions, and our multicultural achievement provide a foundation which enables us to look to the future with confidence. The Declaration of Recognition should capture the story of modern Australia, perhaps even become something children learn in school. A Declaration of Recognition would be an important symbolic document to complement the practical reforms of a Voice to Parliament and a Makarrata Commission.

The policy unit works with a strategic committee including Sean Gordon, Noel Pearson, founder of Cape York Institute, and Professor Megan Davis, Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous at UNSW.

It is also assisted by an advisory council of eminent Australians including Professor Marcia Langton, Danny Gilbert, Nyuggai Warren Mundine, and Professor Cheryl Saunders. The advisory council is chaired by Professor Greg Craven, Vice-Chancellor of Australian Catholic University.

Critical to the work of the policy unit is ensuring that there is an opportunity for the options developed to be discussed with Indigenous peoples, as well as contributing to a high-quality public debate about the big ideas of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

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