In 2018, CCL endorsed the recommendations of the Final Report of the National Constitutional Convention, held at Uluru in 2017. CCL resolved to call on the Australian Government/Parliament to respect and act on the recommendations of the Report and to progress the Uluru Statement From The Heart recommendation for a constitutionally enshrined First Nations a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament. The Convention also called for the establishment of a ‘Makaratta Commission’ to oversee the process of truthtelling and agreement making, referencing the notion, 'nothing about us, without us'.
CCL also supports extra-constitutional recognition of the unique role played by First Nations communities in Australia. This would be a clear assertion of self-determination, with the potential to profoundly benefit First Nations Peoples.
In late 2019 we founded our First Nations Justice Action Group to plan and guide our work in this space.
CCL joins advocates and community leaders to talk First Nations Justice
Recently, CCL was invited to join a meeting at Australia Hall with advocates and First Nations community leaders to talk about paths forward for recognition of truth, for self-determination, and First Nations justice. Present were representatives from Reconciliation NSW, Change the Record, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR), Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Aboriginal Catholic Ministry and the Jewish Board of Deputies. Also attending were community members who are passionate about progress on justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
We began with a welcome to the land that we were meeting on from Nathan Moran, Chief Executive Officer with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC). In his welcome, Nathan conveyed the importance of a sense of place, and connection to country. Nathan explained the lands that the MLALC oversees, stretching from the Georges river in the south, to Palm Beach in the northeast and into the Yengo National Park in the northwest.
Nathan also welcomed us to Australia Hall. The Hall's history includes being the site of the Day of Mourning protests by Aboriginal Australians on 26 January, 1938. Those who gathered met to move the following resolution:
"WE, representing THE ABORIGINES OF AUSTRALIA, assembled in conference at the Australian Hall, Sydney, on the 26th day of January, 1938, this being the 150th Anniversary of the Whiteman's seizure of our country, HEREBY MAKE PROTEST against the callous treatment of our people by the whitemen during the past 150 years, AND WE APPEAL to the Australian nation of today to make new laws for the education and care of Aborigines, we ask for a new policy which will raise our people TO FULL CITIZEN STATUS and EQUALITY WITHIN THE COMMUNITY."
Today the Hall is owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation and the MLALC plan to convert the space into a conference centre and meeting space, a place where Indigenous people can come to meet on the lands of the Eora Nation. The Hall provided the perfect backdrop to conversations about how we can work together to advance First Nations Justice in 2020, and beyond.
Our discussions touched on the bushfire crisis across NSW this summer. Although recent rains have helped, the changing climate means that Indigenous communities will need support through recovery, and into the future. One of the impacts of mismanagement is that sacred sites and places of cultural significance can become overgrown. Indigenous fire management and cultural methods of caring for country, is knowledge that could help preserve Indigenous sites, as well as mitigate future fire crises.
Understanding the journey of first Australians, the nature of historic relations determined by race and power, and the unfair, discriminatory treatment of Indigenous people by 'the colony', will be key to progressing a fairer, more compassionate future for all Australians.
First Nations people in Australia have set out a plan that clarifies 'aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination'. The Uluru Statement From The Heart, ends with the sentence, 'We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future'. CCL will continue to work towards reconciliation and to amplify Indigenous voices championing the vision shared in the Uluru Statement.
If you are interested in joining CCL's First Nations Justice Action Group, please email [email protected] with an expression of interest.