Upholding the big ideas launch

The Statement from the Heart was the result of a National Constitutional Convention held at Uluru last year following regional meetings across the country involving 1,200 Indigenous leaders from across Australia. It was arguably the largest and most representative group of Indigenous representatives assembled in recent times. At the Convention, there was unanimous agreement that Indigenous constitutional recognition not be symbolic, but be a set of structural reforms, one within the Constitution and others in legislation.

In August last year, at the Garma Festival, the Prime Minister said the Statement from the Heart contained big ideas but was short on detail in terms of how an amendment to the Australian Constitution might be implemented to ensure Parliament hears Indigenous voices. This constitutional amendment was the key recommendation in the Statement from the Heart and the Referendum Council's final report.

Upholding the Big Ideas consists of four policy documents.

Journey from the Heart explains how ensuring Indigenous voices are heard by Australia's legislators, establishing a process for makarrata, and adopting a declaration of recognition can help Indigenous Australians take responsibility for their destiny and bring the country together.

Hearing Indigenous voices contains two options for how Parliament might hear Indigenous voices, including draft legislation demonstrating how each option might be implemented.

Makarrata addresses the proposal for a Makarrata Commission, which would oversee truth-telling about Indigenous history and agreement-making between Indigenous peoples and Australian governments.

A Fuller Declaration of Australia's Nationhood puts forward two different options for how the Referendum Council's recommendation for a declaration outside the Constitution might be adopted. A declaration of recognition would recognise Australia's Indigenous heritage, British institutions and multicultural society.

These options have been developed to stimulate discussion about possibilities for Indigenous recognition, including those at the national summit on Indigenous affairs to be convened by Australian National University at Old Parliament House, Canberra in July, and by the parliamentary committee chaired by ALP Senator Patrick Dodson and Liberal MP Julian Leeser, which is due to deliver its final report in November.

The proposals are a joint project of the PM Glynn Institute, the public policy think-tank of Australian Catholic University {hyperlink to ACU website} and Uphold & Recognise, an organisation comprising Indigenous and other Australians committed to upholding the Australian Constitution and recognising Indigenous Australians, and .

Their work was guided by a strategic committee comprising three Indigenous leaders: University of NSW Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Megan Davis, Cape York Institute's founder Noel Pearson and U&R Chair Sean Gordon.

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