The Constitutional Recognition forum has after three days come to a final position that will see a treaty commission established and a truth and justice style commission established with constitutional reform no longer a priority.
By
Claudianna Blanco

26 May 2017 - 2:49 PM  UPDATED 29 May 2017 - 3:12 PM

The Referendum Council has announced constitutional recognition is no longer a major goal and announced they intended to form a treaty commission to seek Makarrata, a Yolgnu word for treaty, and a truth and justice commission.

A note on why this story was published then taken down earlier today.

The 'Uluru Statement from the Heart' was developed over three days of consultation among Indigenous leaders.

Speaking to reporters at Uluru today, Referendum Council representatives, Pat Anderson and Megan Davis said that a working group for the next phase of the process had been chosen from the forum.

"People want treaty. They don't want acknowledgement, they want treaty."

They stated there would be a treaty commission, as well as a truth and justice commission that would run parallel.

Referendum Council Co-Chair Ms Anderson said constitutional acknowledgement had been "totally rejected" by all the meeting held in the 6 month consultation process before the Uluru forum.

Uluru Statement from the heart

"We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart:

Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs.

This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago.

This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown.

How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?

With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.

These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness.

We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.

Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our 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.

We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.

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."

Before the conference ended on Friday, Referendum Council representatives Ms Davis and Ms Anderson told reporters: "This is a long process. Quite a large working group has been chosen. [They] will continue to work on this process," they told the media this afternoon.

"When the Referendum Council finishes their work on the 30th June, we've got another team, a whole range of people who will go forward."

“The other thing that came up that will probably be done by the treaty commission is a [process of acknowledging] truth and justice. This is part of the healing of the nation and coming together and having a mature nation.

“There has to be proper truth telling, in the same way as in other countries in the world,” Ms Anderson said.

Ms Anderson said that having a voice in Parliament would mean people with cultural authority and integrity will be able to have their voices heard.

“We will have a say in decision making, at the moment we’re locked out. We’re powerless and voiceless in our own lands.”

"People want treaty. They don't want acknowledgement, they want treaty," she emphasized.

'We won't sell out our mob': Delegates walk out of Constitutional recognition forum in protest
A breakaway group of delegates have walked out of the Referendum Council’s Uluru talks, claiming it was a flawed process.

Professor Megan Davis also told reporters constitutional recognition wasn’t a priority anymore.

At a press conference that preceded the official announcement of the Uluru statement during a closing ceremony in Mutitjulu Community, Referendum Council representatives said delegates had abandoned constitutional recognition in favour of agreement making and a voice in Parliament.

“Part of this process was to come to a decisive place in relation to model, and that’s what we’ve done,” she said.

However, the council hasn’t ruled out additional forms of symbolic acknowledgement of the 50 to 60 thousand-year history of First Australians and their rights.

NITV News understands delegates stayed up until 4am discussing the statement.

Delegates supporting the conference told NITV News they had felt very emotional and had “teared up” when the statement was read aloud in the conference room earlier on Friday.

At the start of the Referendum Council summit, there were 5 options up for discussion, which were narrowed down to two at the start of the second day of the talks: constitutional recognition and agreement making, which would mean having a voice in Parliament.

Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull made reference to the Uluru talks on Friday morning at a press conference.

He explained he was expecting to hear the conclusion of the meeting at Uluru, which would then be put forward to the full referendum council.

Exclusive: Shorten ‘hopes for consensus’ at Uluru convention
Opposition Leader sees road to treaties through constitutional recognition.

“[We’ll] await their recommendation and then we'll respond in a respectful and responsible manner,” he said. 

The historical three-day summit saw robust discussions and discord between delegates with opposing views.

On Thursday, a group of delegates walked out of the national First People’s summit to discuss constitutional recognition stating, “we won't sell out our mob”.

At least seven delegates from Victoria and Dubbo, along with a large group of supporters, walked out from the Referendum Council’s talks on constitutional recognition, claiming the process was fraught with danger.

Speaking to reporters minutes after walking out of the convention hall, Jenny Munro condemned the Referendum Council’s efforts to support constitutional recognition.

"It's not a dialogue, it's a one-way conversation. Every time we try and raise an issue our voices are silenced," she said.

"They are not looking at any alternative options other than the Noel Pearson road map. And like Native Title, that will prove to be an abject failure."