This is the year Australia can take a brutal burden from its heart

While it cannot undo the past, it can lead to greater understanding. The ability to look back at past wrongs and acknowledge the pain can help bring our country together. We have come a long way on our journey of reconciliation, but we still have a long way to go.


Later this year, we have an opportunity as a country to come together in what may be the greatest act of reconciliation when we vote in the referendum.

All Australians will be asked if they support amending the constitution to recognize Australia’s Indigenous people by one vote, as the heartfelt call for in the Uluru Declaration. The Uluru Declaration comes from the 2017 First Nations National Constitutional Convention – one of the largest gatherings of this type of First Nations from across Australia.

The statement called for the Voice – a permanent independent advisory body made up of members chosen by First Nations people – to be enshrined in the constitution. The Voice will strengthen our democracy and ensure that Parliament and Executive branch policies and programs are more focused and make a practical difference on the ground in communities.

Because the status quo simply cannot continue.


A successful referendum will show the world that we are a mature nation, a nation that recognizes the past and recognizes the rightful place of First Nations.

Our country will be stronger and richer as we understand, appreciate and celebrate more than 65,000 years of history and culture. It will be a defining moment for our country.

And I have great confidence in the Australian people that we as a country will take this crucial next step towards a fairer and fairer future.

Reconciliation Australia’s most recent national research survey found that most Australians believe it is important for everyone to know about the past and for a formal truth-finding process to take place. Australians want unity and an approach that responds to the aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and that ultimately empowers communities to improve their lives.


There is no doubt that discussions about the true history of our country can and will be uncomfortable and painful. But if we commit to listening to one another and opening our hearts to the truth, we can look forward to a brighter, reconciled and united future for all Australians.

As we have seen through the Myall Creek experience, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians can come together to reconcile past events and lift the burden from our hearts.

So as we get closer to the referendum later this year, I encourage all Australians to have conversations at home, at work, in your sports groups.

Heartily accepting the generous offer of the Uluru Declaration and voting yes in the referendum will move us forward on our path to reconciliation. The time for constitutional recognition has come and we must seize this moment and lead Australia towards a better future for all.

Linda Burney is Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians and a member of Barton. She is Wiradjuri.

Justin Scaccy

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