Backed by hundreds of demonstrators, Indigenous organisations launched a campaign calling on the New South Wales government to commit to Makarrata.
The Yolgnu word means ‘the settling of differences’, agreement making and treaty - an idea which came to the fore at the Uluru convention.
A coalition of land councils, medical services, legal advocates and social service providers – representing thousands of Aboriginal people across the state – marched from Hyde Park to Parliament House on Thursday.
The rally, which coincided with the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, was led by the Coalition of Aboriginal Peak Organisations and the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.
Roy Ah-See, the council’s co-chairman and the newly appointed chairman of the prime minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, said it was about creating a better future for the next generation.
“Today’s a start of a long campaign,” he told NITV News on the sidelines.
“The reasons why the organisations have come together is because government haven’t been engaging with the grassroots organisations.”
After traditional dances, a smoking ceremony and a welcome to country, Mr Ah-See told the crowd Aboriginal people aspired to thrive, not simply survive.
“We want access to education, employment and Aboriginal representation in the justice system lowered,” he said.
“Walk with us. Talk with us. You need to come sit with us, you need to talk with us, because whilst you’re giving us the pollution, we’ve got the solutions.”
Terry Chenery, the CEO of Link-Up Aboriginal Corporation, encouraged the 250,000 Aboriginal people in NSW to work together as “one mob”.
“We need to do it together with respect, in honour and truthfulness,” he said.
In 2017, the Australian government rejected the proposal to create a body in parliament representing Indigenous people arguing it would been “seen as a third chamber of parliament” and unlikely to win acceptance in a national referendum.
However, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he would consider the findings of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reform when they are handed down.
In among the crowd in the Sydney CBD on Thursday was Craig Cromelin, who represents the Wiradjuri region on the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.
“We’re coming together to send a simple message to the government,” he told NITV News.
“Our issues, or concerns, of which there are many, have fallen on deaf ears previously and we want to let them know that we want those concerns not forgotten in the lead up to the election.”
He added that the gathering was long overdue and that Aboriginal Elders have been saying that such similar events should be held regularly.
“For the younger ones, it’s uplifting,” Mr Cromelin said.
Makarrata explainer: What is it?