Coffs Coast Lawyers Add Support for First Nations Voice in Parliament

Voice Treaty. Truth. Find out more at https://ulurustatement.org/

 

THE LAW Society of NSW and the NSW Young Lawyers have issued a joint policy statement calling on the Commonwealth Parliament to urgently set a timetable for a referendum on the implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The joint policy statement was launched at a Law Society event celebrating NAIDOC Week with Professor Megan Davis, Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous and Professor of Law at UNSW, and one of the architects of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

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The joint statement says that “Implementation of the Uluru Statement is crucial for empowering First Nations People to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination”.

President of the Law Society of NSW, Juliana Warner said the Law Society of NSW and NSW Young Lawyers fully support the implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Both the Law Society of NSW and the NSW Young Lawyers fully support the Uluru Statement from The Heart, call for a First Nations Voice to Parliament to be constitutionally protected and support the establishment of a Makaratta Commission to be established to supervise agreement-making and truth-telling.

The Uluru Statement was issued in 2017 on the 25th anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo decision after the largest consultation of First Nations People ever carried out in Australia.

It calls for three reforms: Voice, Treaty and Truth.

“The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a powerful statement, addressed to all Australians, asking us to change our constitution and give First Nations People a voice in the laws and policies that are made about them,” Ms Warner said.

“It provides a practical way for us to work together to achieve the goal of constitutional reform and nation building.

“Entrenching a First Nations Voice in the constitution would be a form of recognition of the history and place of our First Nations People, consistent with the right to self-determination.

“We are now calling on the Commonwealth Parliament to set a timetable for a referendum on this issue as a matter of priority,” she added.

“We also support the establishment of a Makarrata Commission by way of legislation to ‘supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history’, as called for in the Uluru Statement.”

President of the NSW Young Lawyers, Simon Bruck, said it is vital that the Uluru Statement from the Heart is seen as a living document, one that speaks to all Australians – not only during NAIDOC week – but on every day of the year.

“Implementation of the Uluru Statement will be the way to walk a different path with First Nations People and will assist in addressing the outstanding injustices which impact on the lives of First Nations People such as their over representation in the criminal justice system and the gap in life outcomes between First Nations people and other Australians,” Mr Bruck said.

“A Voice to Parliament will be an important step towards self-determination for First Nations People,” he said.

Co-President of the Clarence River & Coffs Harbour Law Society, Cassandra Banks, has welcomed the joint statement.

“As lawyers, we have a role, a responsibility to ensure access to justice, to respect and uphold the rule of law and to ensure the law protects our most vulnerable Australians,” Ms Banks said.

“As lawyers, we can work together to ensure that the laws of our land operate fairly and promote the rights of First Nations People and give them a voice in the laws and policies that are made about them,” she said.

“The NSW legal profession makes up more than 43% of Australia’s lawyers – collectively, we have a strong voice and we can and should use our voice to support the Uluru Statement from the Heart.”

 

By Sandra MOON

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